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Ultra-Broadband

Telkom Broadens Its Broadband Options With G.fast Trial

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Openserve, the wholesale division of South Africa's Telkom SA, has teamed up with Nokia for a trial of emerging ultra-broadband technology G.fast ahead of a planned commercial deployment.

The move provides Telkom with a way to deliver high-speed fixed broadband services over existing copper wires already installed in business premises and multi-dwelling units/buildings.

Openserve trialed G.fast technology from Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) in an office complex in Pinelands, Cape Town. The results of the trial showed that it was possible to reach broadband speeds of 500 Mbit/s downstream and 250 Mbit/s upstream using existing copper wires over a distance of 150 meters. The trial also demonstrated aggregate bandwidth (downstream and upstream combined) of 900 Mbit/s over shorter copper lines. However, although such maximum broadband speeds are possible under trial conditions, it's unlikely that such speeds will be advertised as and when commercial services are launched.

The deployment of G.fast enables operators such as Telkom/Openserve to offer high-speed broadband services without the need to run a fiber to every customer: In the case of multi-dwelling buildings and office blocks, a fiber connection is needed only to the basement, where G.fast technology is installed and connected to the building's copper infrastructure. Openserve has been investing in fiber rollouts and now passes 2.2 million premises, including multi-dwelling units, with its fiber lines.

Openserve CEO Alphonzo Samuels: 'With G.fast, we have found a way to maximize the usage of some of our existing network infrastructure.'
Openserve CEO Alphonzo Samuels: "With G.fast, we have found a way to maximize the usage of some of our existing network infrastructure."

"G.fast provides us with a great alternative in scenarios where the length of the copper tail is 150m or less," notes Openserve CEO Alphonzo Samuels. "Moreover, the business case is convincing. With G.fast, we have found a way to maximize the usage of some of our existing network infrastructure, while avoiding any disruption or possible harm to the aesthetics of the real estate."

The trial comes ahead of a planned commercial deployment later this year: At the operator's annual results meeting in early June, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko announced that broadband speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s downstream would be offered once G.fast-enabled services are made commercially available. Telkom currently offers fixed broadband services of up to 40 Mbit/s using VDSL technology.

G.fast is being used in multiple ways in different markets. In the US, network operators such as AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier Communications are deploying G.fast in multi-dwelling units in the same way as Telkom/Openserve, while in the UK, BT Group is deploying G.fast technology in street cabinets and at distribution points closer to customer premises to boost broadband speeds over the copper lines that run to houses and offices.

Nokia is one of the leading G.fast technology suppliers globally, and in addition to more than 40 trials, already boasts ten commercial customers including BT's wholesale access network division Openreach, Chunghwa Telecom in Taiwan, A1 Telekom Austria, Energia Communications in Japan and Frontier Communications in the US.

Nokia is not alone in the G.fast technology market, though, as ADTRAN, Calix, Huawei and ZTE are also pitching G.fast broadband access system products to network operators.

For more about G.fast see:

— Ray Le Maistre, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, International Group Editor, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.

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