G.fast Advances Show Us Ethernet's Future
Recently, one great new advance hit the Ethernet field thanks to the certification of G.fast products. These six items, announced by the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) and the Broadband Forum, were just part of a major new advance that also featured the creation of the G.fast Council, a group devoted to illustrating how G.fast could make a difference in overall broadband operations.
While the Broadband Forum itself is technologically-agnostic, it's clearly putting some weight into the advancement of fiber technology and the improvement of Ethernet in general. It's hedging a few bets, so to speak, and adding weight to the development of a few different technologies. Interestingly, this is a development mirrored in large parts of the field; most of the major names in fixed access equipment are taking a similar stance as the Broadband Forum is.
However, some note that the appearance of G.fast products, specifically those with a level of interoperability, are giving the Broadband Forum stance extra weight in not just Ethernet, but connectivity in general. G.fast has seen rapid development in the last several months, with even some commercial services putting it to use, but G.fast requires fiber to be very close to the user in order to reach its maximum potential. Fiber deployments haven't exactly kept up in any significant way to make this stance worthwhile.
However, that's changing. We're seeing increasing developments in dark fiber, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) and other systems as well as the growth of passive optical networks (PON) like XGS-PON and TWDM-PON. Also gaining is Ethernet PON along with gigabit PON and other 10G systems, though reports suggest companies are putting development muscle into technologies that support several different wavelengths to get the most out of these systems.
It would be easy to think that Broadband Forum et al are jumping the gun here, putting the cart of G.fast before the horse of fiber. But there's every indication that the horse is coming along, so it's actually a prudent move to have a cart ready for that horse. This is especially true if the horse is set to arrive soon; though the cart's a bit of a waste right now, having it ready isn't imprudent.
Given the developments in 5G, however—which are set to start rolling out commercially somewhere between 2019 and 2020 depending on who you ask and how you ask it—the developments in G.fast may not be especially valuable. Only time will tell just how this whole issue shakes out, and with so much at stake, it's likely to shake out one way or another soon.
Edited by Maurice Nagle