Israel-based chipset maker Sckipio has teamed up with Siklu to deploy a unique twist on hybrid fibre G.fast broadband technology, which is now able to get capacity from a millimeter Wave (mmWave) wireless link instead of a fibre optic cable. This is being used to deliver speeds of up to 800Mbps (aggregate) to flats.
At present Openreach’s G.fast solution in the UK works in a similar way to VDSL2 based Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology. In this setup a fibre optic cable is run to your local PCP Street Cabinet, which is then fitted with an extension “pod” to house the G.fast line cards. After that the service reaches your home via an existing copper cable.
The other way of doing G.fast is by installing the fibre fed technology inside smaller nodes, which sit on top of local telegraph poles, inside buildings or under manhole covers (i.e. Fibre-to-the-distribution-point). Now Sckipio has deployed a third way of delivering G.fast, which effectively replaces the fibre supply with a fixed mmW wireless link and is aimed more at serving large apartment blocks (Multi-Dwelling Units).
In this setup the wireless side is handled by Siklu’s high capacity mmW technology (EtherHaul), which tend to operate in the 60GHz – 70GHz and 80GHz frequency bands (something future 5G mobile will also be able to tackle). Radio links like this can distribute data capacities of up to 10Gbps (Gigabits per second) over several kilometres, which reduces the need for more extensive and costly civil engineering (e.g. street works to deploy fibre).
Apparently the first commercial roll-out of this combined solution was just used to connect up a low-income, MDU in Cleveland (USA) with the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (note: existing copper wires were still used inside the building itself to serve each unit). Some initial speedtests conducted on individual connections are said to have produced a download speed of up to 650Mbps and uploads of 160Mbps.
David Baum, CEO of Sckipio, said:
“Our Gfast technology was built to deliver ultra-high-speed broadband to the masses. This installation proves that Gfast is helping to solve the urban digital divide by bringing the Internet to those who had no access or very slow speeds.
Partnering with DigitalC and Siklu has enabled CMHA residents to access ultrafast, affordable internet that will allow them to connect to their families, search for jobs, improve their education and health, and participate in the global digital economy.”
Strictly speaking the idea of using a wireless fed DSL style network is nothing new and indeed Openreach has already deployed a number of Wireless-to-the-Cabinet (WTTC) solutions, although these adopted a more traditional combination of Microwave radio to feed a VDSL2 (FTTC) street cabinet (example).
The mmW approach is certainly interesting but it seems unlikely to gain much traction over this side of the pond, where Openreach has just decided to scale-back their G.fast plans in favour of a greater focus on full fibre FTTP deployments (here).