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Openreach connects first test customers to G.fast broadband

Openreach switches on its first pilot of G.fast ultrafast broadband services in Huntingdon

Residents of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire have become the first people in the UK to receive broadband services over G.fast technology in a trial conducted by BT’s infrastructure arm Openreach.

G.fast is a DSL standard for short local loops, which could provide ultrafast broadband speeds of up to 330Mbps – more than twice the speed of the fastest widely available service on the UK market and 10 times the UK average.

Its ability to transmit faster speeds without laying more fibre means BT have identified it as a useful halfway house between fibre-to-the-curb (FTTC) and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) services. BT has stated it hopes to widely provide 500Mbps connections around the UK within a decade.

BT said G.fast would enable Openreach to hit this target in a shorter timeframe than if it focused on an FTTP roll-out alone, as well as being more economical.

The Huntingdon trial – which involves 2,000 households – has been opened to eight other communications providers besides BT. Openreach said this meant any technological developments would benefit the wider industry.

Two further trials are to be conducted in 2015 in Gosforth on Tyneside and Swansea in Wales, with a wider roll-out expected to begin within the next couple of years.

“This is the largest trial of G.fast technology in the world and it builds on the pioneering research of BT’s world-class R&D teams,” said Openreach CEO Joe Garner.

“We conducted the world’s first G.fast trial in 2013 and our experts have been heavily involved in creating global industry standards for this technology. We’re eager to support all our service providers in learning how customers enjoy the service.”

Culture secretary John Whittingdale said the trial would help ensure that the UK was ahead of the competition when it came to broadband.

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