Nbn and Nokia have embarked on what they claim is the first Australian trial of XG-FAST ultra-broadband access technology, in a bid to gain greater speeds over the existing copper networks being used in the government’s Multi Technology Mix National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout.
The two companies, which announced the trial on 31 August, expect the lab trial to demonstrate the capability of XG-FAST to meet the future demands of Australian individuals and businesses for multi-gigabit Internet services provided by the NBN.
Nbn CEO, Bill Morrow, who spoke at an XG-FAST demonstration event in Sydney, suggested that the technology represents one of many potential options the company would be looking at to upgrade the NBN over time, and beyond its 2020 completion date.
“It is about making sure we provide a minimum performance level today and an upgrade path,” said Morrow.
“This is vitally important and why we’re so appreciative of the relationship we have with Nokia, because they’re one of the leaders in looking at the variety of different technology that we have where we know we can constantly stay on top of whatever that new wave of technology is that’s coming in.”
“We’re constantly looking at new things that we can deploy that will get either a lower cost, faster time to get everybody connected, or better speeds,” he said.
Under the government’s Multi technology Mix approach, nbn is using existing infrastructure to connect homes and businesses to the network. This includes, copper wire, hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) cables, fixed wireless, and more.
In late 2015, nbn reached a deal to acquire portions of Telstra’s copper national copper and HFC networks for $11 billion.
“We know that when we think about that technology, we think about G.Fast as the protocol that goes over the top of that to give us some pretty fast speeds, and most recently we’ve been testing XG-FAST, which takes that up to a whole new level of multiple gigabits per second capability,” said Morrow.
According to Nokia, which is nbn’s original fixed networks partner, overseas trials of the XG-FAST technology over standard copper cables in Germany and the UK have reached speeds of 8 Gbps over a 50-metre line and 5.6 Gbps over a 35-metre line, respectively.
“XG-FAST could offer us a much faster and cost effective way to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to premises on our network, aside from trying to connect them all to Fibre-to-the-Premises technology,” said nbn CTO, Dennis Steiger, in a statement.
On 26 August, nbn revealed its latest annual corporate plan, announcing a $2 billion decrease in the upper limit of its peak funding, to $54 billion.
announced a move away from its projected reliance on HFC, reducing the projected
number of expected premises to connect to the network using HFC infrastructure
from 4 million to between 2.5 million and 3.2 million.
This follows comments in a leaked internal nbn document describing the Optus HFC infrastructure as "not fit for purpose".