Broadband boost: G.fast testing lab, consortium to foster 1G over copper

UNH-IOL

UNH InterOperability Lab

Credit: UNH-IOL

Full-speed ahead for emerging G.fast WAN standard with UNH-IOL testing lab, industry consortium

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You might think that next-generation broadband speeds and DSL go together like Amsterdam and New Hampshire, and you'd be right, but perhaps not in the way you think.

News out of the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam this week is that the University of New Hampshire InterOperablity Laboratory (UNH-IOL) has been chosen to serve as the first and only testing lab for the Broadband Forum's G.fast certification program. That program, along with plans for a G.fast chipset interoperability plugfest slated for January, was unveiled today as well. The testing lab is designed to assure service providers that customer premises and demarcation point equipment will work together.

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G.fast refers to the emerging ITU standards for digital subscriber line technology that would support up to 1Gbps speeds for local copper loops shorter than 820 feet, giving service providers a potentially cheaper alternative to fiber for connecting into businesses and homes that are consuming and creating ever more bandwidth-greedy content. G.fast, which could be ratified as a standard by year-end, would blow by VDSL2 technology, which handles speeds of up to a few hundred Mbps, albeit on longer loops than G.fast will support.

(More common DSL technology offers much lower speeds and the head of the FCC recently said he will push for more broadband competition in the United States. The U.S. National Broadband Plan speed goals are quite modest when compared to what G.fast could deliver.)

The independent UNH-IOL already is a center for testing on other advances technologies such as Gigabit Ethernet, SDN and WiFi.

The lab is also launching a G.fast Consortium and will begin accepting companies as founding members on Dec. 1. 

Vendors such as Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent and BT have already been trialing early G.fast technology. UNH-IOL anticipates trialing to heat up through early next year, with lab testing to follow and certifications to come as soon as fall of 2015. 

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