Feature Article

February 02, 2016

EXFO Debuts Handheld G.fast Testing Device

Network testing equipment maker EXFO has announced a new G.fast solution that it says will make it easier for carriers to deploy G.fast networks to residential customers.

The company has introduced the MaxTester 635G test set, which is small enough to be held in an engineer’s hand. The device has a touchscreen that makes it easy to access different tests in the field.

"EXFO has successfully demonstrated the MAX-635G G.fast test solution to a number of major service providers and we are very excited by the resulting interest and feedback concerning this product," said Stéphane Chabot, EXFO  vice president of the physical layer test division. "We are seeing significant interest from our customers concerning the deployment of new G.fast technology solutions. They are attracted by its fiber-like speeds, which can be achieved more economically than full fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments."

Having good test equipment will allow carriers to deploy G.fast technology more quickly to their customers by troubleshooting issues that are preventing networks from working. The device’s small size will make testing G.fast networks much quicker.

G.fast is an extension of DSL that promises much faster throughput, promising speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. As with conventional DSL connections, the speed depends on how far customers are from their local exchanges and the amount of line noise. The one disadvantage is that G.fast requires much shorter distances between customers and exchanges than regular DSL connections, which could prove to be a big bottleneck in actual networks.

Since it uses existing “local loop” lines for the connection between an ISP and the customer premises, carriers don’t have to build fiber networks for their customers, instead concentrating on building their backbone networks with fiber. Even if the customers have abandoned their land lines in favor of cellphones, they’ll most likely still have the wiring and be able to get G.fast service unbundled from phone service.

Since it will be cheaper to deploy than fiber-to-the-home, G.fast could be attractive to carriers building broadband networks in areas underserved previously, especially rural areas. People in these areas who aren’t lucky enough to live in a town with municipal broadband have to stick with broadband or opt for satellite.

With G.fast connections, rural Internet users can stream video from YouTube and Netflix as easily as city slickers can.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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