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Huawei announce UK trial of 'last mile' copper technology

Brian Karlovsky | Oct. 24, 2013
Live trial tests Huawei's technology, which it says will lift copper speeds to up to 1Gps

Telecommunications giant Huawei have launched a UK trial of technology which it says boosts 'last mile' copper speeds to up to 1Gbps.

The live trial, in partnership with BT, will test the company's G.FAST technology, which allows existing copper connections to reach speeds comparable to optical connections, according to a company statement.

It also has the potential to facilitate Gigabit per second broadband speeds to domestic and commercial customers without causing the major upgrade disruption associated with Fibre-to-the-Premises technology.

The trial, located close to the BT Adastral Park R&D centre in Ipswich, has seen multi-port G.FAST equipment installed in underground distribution points.

The technology permits the last leg of an ultra-fast network connection to be carried out with copper wire, where previously only fibre optic cable was capable of reaching adequate speeds, Huawei said in a company statement.

BT managing director Tim Whitely said the trial had the potential to demonstrate how ultra-fast bandwidth access may more efficiently delivered to consumers and businesses.

"We will be observing the results of the trial with interest to see whether G.FAST technology could play a role in ensuring BT has the best network in the short, medium and long term."

This follows last week's meeting with the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, who outlined the government's commitment to working with Huawei.

Osborne said there were some western governments that had blocked Huawei from making investments.

"Not Britain. Quite the opposite. That is why I was pleased to welcome Huawei's opening of a flagship office in our country in June, and of £1.3bn of investment that came with it," he said.

This comes as the Australian government launches a strategic review to deploy a broader mix of technologies as part of its Fibe-to-the-Node NBN roll out.

This option, which is cheaper and faster to deploy, will connect fibre to every street as opposed to every home. However questions have been raised over the speeds which can be delivered via copper wire between the home and the node, which is up to 40 years old in some parts of Australia.

Australian telecommunications analyst Paul Budde said Cisco had similar technology (to Huawei's G.FAST) that it was heavily pushing to the government at the moment.

"These are certainly options at around, I think $500 per home," he said. "If this is going to be pursued there needs to be changes to the current regulations and also to the contract with Telstra, and that might be of a greater concern than the technology itself. "Also, the government will have to come up with a holistic plan so that people know where this fits in, and if and how that will be upgraded to Fibre-to-the-Home eventually.


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