After five consecutive quarters of positive growth, G.fast shipments and revenues stalled in 3Q17. Across the wireline access equipment vendors, there was either flat growth or a decline in shipments for the quarter. While it is a new market and has not had the chance to mature, many operators appear to be pausing their deployments, waiting until recent amendments to standards are fully incorporated into G.fast equipment, expected in 2018.
Operators biding their time to deploy G.fast
It is clear a number of operators are interested in G.fast technology based on several consecutive quarters of growth and various public announcements. But the stall in 3Q17 is intriguing because it occurred across the G.fast market.
G.fast specifications have been enhanced by several amendments impacting physical-layer specifications. These amendments give operators more options for ways they can deploy and flexibility for equipment placement. Amendments 1 and 2 were passed in mid-2016. Amendment 1 specified test parameters and support for low-power operation and Amendment 2 included the ability to reach higher speeds symmetrically, among other aspects. The latest development of G.fast is Amendment 3, passed in April 2017. It enables a PHY rate of up to 2Gbps at 100m and extends the frequency allocation to 212MHz, up from the previous allocation of 106MHz. Crosstalk is minimized by dynamic time assignment (DTA) and the adaptation of a coaxial cable medium, as well as additional features. Interoperability testing and certifications have also contributed to an improved G.fast ecosystem.
While these amendments and certifications have helped evolve the G.fast technology, multiple amendments in a relatively short period have likely caused operators to regard G.fast technology as a work in progress. If an operator implements too soon, it risks missing out on further technology developments, if any. Consequently, many seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach, allowing the technology to weather several iterations before deciding whether to deploy. Amendment 3–compliant equipment is due to deploy in 2018 and at that point, we expect G.fast shipments to ramp.
2018 Trends to Watch: Broadband Access Equipment, SPT002-000020 (December 2017)
Market Share Report: 3Q17 FTTx, DSL + G.fast, and CMTS/CCAP, SPT002-000025 (December 2017)
Market Share Spreadsheet: 3Q17 PON, DSL + G.fast, CMTS and CCAP (Revenues), SPT002-000022 (December 2017)
Market Share Spreadsheet: 3Q17 PON, DSL + G.fast, and CMTS + CCAP (Units), SPT002-000021 (December 2017)
"G.fast goes certifiably interoperable," TE0006-001424 (July 2017)
G.fast: Gaining Mindshare, TE0006-001091 (July 2015)
"BT outlines bold ambitions with G.fast, but not without caveats," TE0009-001395 (February 2015)
Jaimie Lenderman, Senior Analyst, Service Provider Technology