G.fast: Not coming quickly to a neighborhood near you

Here is a short article on the technical characteristics of G.fast, the "solution" that is supposedly going to allow the telephone companies to compete with the cable companies.

Don't want to click through and read it? Here is the short summary:

  • G.fast is marketed as "up to a Gig." Riiiiiiight. The emphasis should be on the "up to." If you are less than 300 feet from your telephone company's DSL cabinet (hardly anyone is), it is technically feasible to deliver "up to" about 700 Meg, but the real bandwidth is likely to be only about 100 meg.
  • If you live farther away from the DSL cabinet, the bandwidth quickly drops drastically, to as little as 22 Meg at 3900 feet. In my neighborhood, I'm farther than that, and many of my neighbors are a mile or more away.
  • The service is highly asymmetric, meaning there is much less upstream bandwidth than downstream bandwidth. So if you want to work from home, it's no better than cable, which means business videoconferencing will be marginal at best, along with connecting to the corporate VPN and moving large files around, data backups will be painfully slow, etc.

The article talks a lot about how great its working in Europe, but Europe is not the U.S. Cities are much denser generally in Europe, so more residences are going to be closer to the DSL switches. G.fast sounds good, but it does absolutely nothing for rural broadband, where distances from the DSL cabinet are measured in miles, not feet, and where the ancient copper cable plant can barely handle existing "little broadband" DSL, much less the very demanding G.fast. To get speeds of hundreds of megabits out of G.fast, you not only have to be close to the switch, the copper cable between your home and the switch has to be perfect, meaning brand new.

Hilariously, the article touts a test in Britain where they got 700 meg speed.....woohoo....wait for it....with a wopping 57 feet between the switch and the user. Fifty-seven feet.

That's all you have to remember about G.fast: 57 feet.

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