Forget fiber! Gigabit-boosted DSL standard could be ready next year

A broadband standard that aims to support bandwidth-intensive applications such as streaming Ultra-HDTV movies without the need to install fiber between the distribution point and people’s homes met its first-stage approval, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said on Tuesday.

The broadband standard is called G.fast and promises up to 1Gbps over existing copper telephone wires. The standard is designed to deliver super-fast downloads over a distance of 250 meters, eliminating the expense of fiber cables to peoples’ homes, the ITU said in a news release.

G.fast passed the first-stage approval of the ITU standard that specifies methods to minimize the risk of G.fast equipment interfering with broadcast services such as FM radio, the ITU said. If all goes well, G.fast will be approved in early 2014, it added.

Faster networks are needed to smoothly handle 4K resolution TV signals.

The standard is expected to be deployed by service providers that want to offer Fiber to the Home-like services, the ITU said. G.fast is meant to enable flexible upstream and downstream speeds to support bandwidth-intensive applications such as uploading high-resolution video and photo libraries to cloud-based storage, and communicating via HD video, it said.

Users should be able to install G.fast themselves without assistance, according to the ITU. Self-installing eliminates further costs service providers or consumers would have to pay for technicians, which will improve the speed of new services rollout, it said.

G.fast was tested by Alcatel-Lucent and Telekom Austria at the beginning of July. During that trial, a maximum speed of 1.1Gbps was achieved over 70 meters and 800Mbps over 100 meters over a single cable.

Consumers could be expecting the first G.fast connections to be available as of 2015, estimated Frank van der Putten, manager of Fixed Access Standards & Regulatory at Alcatel-Lucent and ITU rapporteur in a YouTube video.

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