BT unveils raft of technology developments

13 Jun 2017

British fixed line incumbent BT has made a number of announcements as part of its ‘Adastral Park Innovation Week’, which got underway on Monday and runs until the end of this week.

In the first of these, BT said that its network arm Openreach had showcased the ‘fastest ever consumer broadband’, having carried out a live demonstration of a 100Gbps, or ‘hyperfast’, broadband service at BT’s R&D centre at Adastral Park. The demo utilised a standard residential fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) connection coupled with advanced transmission technology developed in partnership with China’s Huawei Technologies. BT noted that the test equipment was designed to replicate a fibre connection in a real-life setting with a single fibre carrying a 100G signal from exchange equipment and carried over standard technology used in Openreach’s existing FTTP infrastructure.

Meanwhile, again working with Huawei, BT revealed that its research team has developed a new 400Gbps single-carrier based technology solution capable of transmitting data over core fibre-optic networks. Trials of this technology – which were conducted over a distance of 250km using a live fibre-optic loop between Adastral Park and BT’s Bishops Stortford Exchange – build on the telco’s previously demonstrated ‘Superchannel’ concept, which last year achieved downlink speeds of 5.6Tbps by combining 200Gbps wavelengths of light into a single optical fibre. By combining multiple 400Gbps wavelengths over a single fibre, the telco says it is confident that speeds of more than 13Tbps can be achieved using the same amount of light spectrum as in the earlier Superchannel demo.

Finally, in the mobile arena BT subsidiary EE claims to have become the first British mobile network operator (MNO) to showcase ‘pre-standard 5G’ backhaul capability, using it to connect its ‘air mast’ mobile coverage solution. Known as ‘Helikite’, the platform uses mini mobile sites attached to a helium balloon to provide 4G mobile coverage where permanent sites have been damaged or in areas where there is no coverage. In the technology trial, EE employed pre-standard 5G backhaul technology using millimetre wave (mmWave) frequencies, with the mobile backhaul solution demonstration utilising 26GHz test spectrum to connect the Parallel Wireless small cell on the Helikite to an Athonet virtualised Evolved Packet Core (EPC) on the ground using a PHAZR link. According to EE, the addition of pre-5G backhaul not only boosted 4G speeds, but also lowered latency, allowing for an increased number of people that the air mast could keep connected.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), Huawei Technologies