When it comes to broadband connections, most people will opt for cable or fiber; they’re the fastest you can get these days.
But many in the US, and other countries, are still connecting via Digital Subscriber Line, or DSL. It comes to a home, multi-dwelling unit (MDU, like an apartment building or condo complex), or even a business using old-school copper wire that used to be just for talking on the phone.
DSL is everywhere because of the phone landline infrastructure, but is hampered by the fact that the distance of a connection can slow it down. Plus, the average DSL connection download throughput usually tops out around 3 Megabits per second (Mbps) in the real world. That’s a speed that even the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t consider “broadband” anymore.
So you’d be excused for seeing a few headlines about a technology called Gfast (previously styled G.fast, as in “gee-dot-fast,” but that’s going away) and thinking that your slow-ish copper line could someday shoot your internet speeds to as high as 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps). That’s not the case, at least not entirely.
What Gfast Does
We’ve all heard of fiber-to-the-home (FttH) where companies run fiber optic cables right up to the household, but that’s not always an option.
“The biggest issue with fiber to the home [is] those last meters,” says Robin Mersh, a telecom industry veteran who’s currently the CEO of the Broadband Forum, a non-profit consortium of ISPs and equipment makers. “It’s also…the biggest drag on deployment. Sometimes you hit issues with consumers or businesses, particularly consumers, saying they don’t want a yard…