AT&T breaks major fibre speed barrier

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Jonathan Weiss)

US broadband operator AT&T has become the first in the industry to achieve a 20Gbps symmetrical speed on a production fibre network, claiming the milestone could mean even faster speeds for consumers and businesses in the near future.

The company achieved the transmission rate on 25GS-PON in its broadband lab in Austin, Texas and says the technology can work with its existing fibre network. 

The company achieved 10Gbps in lab tests earlier this year and has a commercial 5Gbps ‘Hyper Gig’ broadband offering in the US.

Openreach fibre 

PON is used for the last mile of a broadband connection, linking businesses and households (along with mobile infrastructure) to the wider Internet. 

This essentially describes the fibre connection between a house, cabinet, and exchange.

The company says it will continue to work with other members of the 25GSPON MSA group, a collection of more than 50 operators and suppliers, to drive the standards and specifications of the technology, which it believes will mature within the next 6 to 12 months

Operators and telecoms equipment manufacturers around the world are testing future upgrades to the technology, including in the UK. Openreach and Nokia have already successfully tested 25G-PON in lab trials, while Vodafone and Nokia have started work using 100G-PON.

What separates AT&T’s achievement from other tests to date is the achievement of symmetrical 20Gbps download and upload speeds.

“Symmetrical 20 gig capability gives developers and engineers a huge runway to the future,” said Eddy Barker, AT&T’s AVP for Mobility & Access Architecture. “As concurrent and mass use of AR/VR, the metaverse, autonomous cars, telemedicine, robotic manufacturing, real-time video sharing and editing, and gaming continue to grow, our 20 Gbpss service will provide plenty of bandwidth – that includes helping make possible connected apps and services that haven’t even been imagined yet. “

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.