BT has reached 'ultrafast' broadband speeds of one Gigabit per second using a combination of fibre optic and copper cabling.
Such high speeds were previously considered to only be possible with dedicated fibre lines direct from main telephone exchanges, but the new field trial used cheaper Fibre To The Distribution Point (FTTdp) technology, which uses fibre to connect exchanges to telephone poles or junction boxes with copper covering the last few metres to homes and businesses.
Downstream speeds of around 800Mbps combined with upstream speeds of more than 200Mbps were achieved over a 19m length of copper, according to BT, while speeds of around 700/200Mbps were also achieved over longer lines of 66m, which represents roughly 80 per cent of connections.
The trials used technology based on the G.fast standard for transmitting data over the telephone network, which maximises data capacity over copper wire and uses much higher frequencies, plus advanced ‘crosstalk’ cancellation techniques, to make ultrafast speeds possible.
Dr Tim Whitley, managing director of research and innovation at BT Group, said: “We see G.fast as a very promising technology with significant potential – that’s why we’re putting some of our best minds on the case to assess it fully in a purpose-built facility.
“BT has a long history of pushing the boundaries in telecommunications, from the earliest days of the electric telegraph to today’s global fibre networks, and it’s crucial that we stay ahead of the curve for the benefit of our customers and shareholders."
BT's fibre network being rolled out by subsidiary Openreach currently uses a mix of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), which is capable of significantly faster speeds but very expensive to deploy, and Fibre to the Cabinet technology (FTTC), which is more common but currently limited to downstream speeds of up to 80Mbps.
With FTTdp the fibre is closer to the premises than with FTTC, meaning the copper link is much shorter, and it is potentially more cost effective and simpler than either FTTP or dedicated business lines such as Ethernet as less fibre and civil engineering is required.
Joe Garner, CEO Openreach, said: “Our fibre rollout is making a huge positive difference to this country, already helping 82 per cent of people have access to superfast broadband. Businesses obviously demand even greater bandwidth and can already access speeds of up to 10Gbps via dedicated business lines that we provide across the country.
“But customer needs will continue to change, and that’s why we’re deploying a mix of current technologies as well as testing new ones. We will continue to innovate so that we meet our customers’ needs today, and in the future.”