Pundits stared into their crystal balls and declared 2018 the year of Gfast, and they were right.
Within the first few months of this year, service providers passed about 3 million premises with Gfast networks, and approximately 29,000 households subscribe to these services, according to research released today from Point Topic. Most of these subscribers reside in Southeast Asia, the analyst firm said.
To date, 33 telcos and ISPs currently or plan to deploy this technology soon, Point Topic found. Of these, 14 are trialing Gfast and already have conducted lab tests, with some completing field trials. Another 13 now are rolling out Gfast within their internal networks and plan to launch commercially within the next 12 to 24 months. And the remaining six global providers already offer Gfast services to customers, with download speeds ranging from 300Mbp/s to 500Mbp/s, Point Topic determined.
"Now that the early implementations and some significant testing and pilot schemes are winding up we'll start to see real acceleration in network footprints and adoption," said Jolanta Stanke, research director at Point Topic, in a statement.
Mapping Worldwide Gfast Deployments in 2018
Within the first few weeks of 2018, global operators have passed about 3 million premises with Gfast, Point Target research found. (Source: Point Target)
Examples of deployments include:
BT: Has committed to serving 10 million premises by 2020; covers 93,000 currently via fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) and Gfast, for speeds of up to 330Mbp/s.
Swisscom: Deployed fiber-to-the-street (FTTS) Gfast to 70,000 premises, providing speeds up to 500Mbp/s.
Oi: Brazilian provider targets parts of Rio de Janeiro with Gfast and, when it debuted the service in 2016, planned to work with Alcatel-Lucent on to eventually extend speeds beyond 1Gbp/s into XGfast services of up to 10Gbp/s. But in December 2017 after months of financial turmoil, the operator filed for bankruptcy, no doubt impacting its Gfast plans among other things.
CenturyLink: Launched a pilot in 800 apartments in Wisconsin, and post-acquisition of Level 3 is reviewing future plans for Gfast and other access technology deployments.
Chunghwa Telecom: With 25,000 subscribers on Gfast, Point Topic names the Taiwanese provider the largest user of this technology.
AT&T: The service provider recently debuted Gfast services to Boston multi-dwelling units (MDUs) and plans to use Gfast to deploy broadband services to 22 metro areas outside its footprint (See AT&T Uses Gfast to Dish Out Broadband to Boston.)
nbn: Australia's government-run provider is slated to initially cover 700,000 premises with Gfast, it has said.
Combined, this adds up to between 6 million and 7 million premises that will be covered by Gfast by year's end, predicted Point Topic. If BT adheres to its plans, the total number could reach 10 million, the research firm said.
Where Gfast Fits
Fiber is time-consuming and expensive to deploy, especially to MDUs where apartment and condo residents may not own their units and building owners plus dwellers' associations ink deals with operators for discounted rates that cover all residences. With Gfast, providers bring fiber to the basement, cabinet or street, and then use units' existing copper or coax to cost-effectively and rapidly deliver high-speed broadband to each apartment.
In some cases, operators view Gfast as the first step to fiber: With fiber already in the basement, once an owner wants to deploy fiber to each unit a service provider can construct fiber-based infrastructure from this early investment, having earned revenue from the copper-based, Gfast-powered broadband during the intervening years. In other cases, providers simply see Gfast as a technology that continues to evolve, delivering faster and faster synchronous speeds that empower MDU residents to quickly upload, download, use telehealth, Internet of Things, smart home solutions and anything else they want.
In fact, providers such as Telekom Austria, BT, Swisscom and nbn are trialing next-generation Gfast, which promises speeds of up to 11Gbp/s.
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