NBN Co plans to supercharge copper to give everyone gigabit internet

Amid all the fracas and complaints that NBN Co has had to field over the last… well, what seems like forever, there’s finally a little bit of good news. 

The company behind the Australian National Broadband Network has announced that, come 2018, it will launch a new broadband technology called G.fast that will hopefully see download speeds rush past the current 100Mbps limit that’s imposed by today’s VDSL technology.

NBN Co claims that this new tech will deliver speeds of up to 1Gbps via its fibre-copper infrastructure, including to installations using fibre to the node (FTTN), fibre to the building (FTTB), and fibre to the curb (FTTC).

NBN chief strategy officer JB Rousselot said that, “Adding G.fast to the toolkit for the FttC and FttB networks will allow us to deliver ultra-fast services faster and more cost effectively than if we had to deliver them on a full fibre-to-the-premises connection.”

Squeezing the copper for more

Testing of the G.fast tech began way back in 2015, when the NBN company trialled it on an old 100-metre stretch of copper, where it managed to clock download speeds of 600Mbps. 

Last year, NBN Co reported that the XG.FAST trail – G.fast’s successor, given it “remains in the very early stages of its deployment and is unlikely to be ready for commercial deployment for several years” – managed to achieve 8Gbps speeds over a 30-metre copper line. So there is hope yet.

G.fast will eventually replace VDSL technology across the network, and will likely require some work to be done at the node, basement or curb, plus a new modem – one that can support the burst in speeds – to be installed inside each premises. But according to Rousselot, “Our FTTP and HFC end-users already have the technology to support Gigabit services and adding G.fast over FTTC provides the upgrade path for our FTTN end users to ultimately receive Gigabit speeds too.”