A few months ago, one of our Jargon Busting blogs covered the topic of G.Fast. This is the latest technology that BT is rolling out across the country in order to further improve the speed of fibre broadband connections.
G.Fast is not the final step in increasing broadband speeds. It still uses the copper cable from the BT cabinet that is closest to your business / house, which means that a lot of speed is lost as copper was never designed to carry this amount of data.The proper solution is fibre run all the way to the home / premises. This will be a very expensive process though, so unsurprisingly, BT is trying to squeeze a few more years of life out of the copper wires.
This new G.Fast technology uses a few tricks to increase the current maximum of of 80Mbps that is achievable over a standard fibre to the cabinet connection. BT's current pricing for connections using this technology is:
BT Ultrafast 1: Up to 152Mbps download / 30Mbps upload. £54.99 per month.
BT Ultrafast 2: Up to 314Mbps download / 50Mbps upload. £59.99 per month.
The faster of the two options there is about 4 times faster than the best possible speed achieveable on a standard fibre -> copper connection. Note that this technology is still subject to the same slowdown as the current fibre to the cabinet connections do. Only those closest to the BT cabinet will achieve the headline download figure. Most will get less than that (hence "Up to").
BT have only installed this technology in a handful of locations so far. However, the plan is to roll it on a much larger scale over the next couple of years.
Of course, the main question to ask here is "do I need it?" The answer in almost all cases is probably no. For now, at least, anyway. Only a fool would suggest that this speed will never be necessary. What seems excessive now will be standard eventually. However, it's very likely that those that already have a standard "Up to 80Mbps" fibre to the cabinet connection will find that they never hit the limits of their connection yet. You could have 4 people streaming Netflix at the same time, and you'd still be nowhere near saturating your line. That sort of speed is even usually plenty for most businesses. You can easily run an internet based IP phone system alongside general internet use over 80Mbps, and will be able to for the forseeable future. The BT marketing department is really going to have to earn its money to convince people otherwise in the short term!