G.fast chip vendors are set to cash in during the next six years if a new market forecast is in any way accurate.
The report produced by MarketsandMarkets, which has a
ridiculously long title but which is basically a G.fast global chipset market forecast for the next six years, suggests the market will grow to be worth US$4.2 billion by 2022 from just $41 million in 2016 (a CAGR of 166.5%).
That eye-watering forecast is based on the expected demand for G.fast chipsets from CPE (customer premises equipment) and network system vendors as communications network operators in Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific deploy G.fast networking gear and use it to launch ultra-broadband services.
Deployments have already begun. European national operator Swisscom has already launched a commercial G.fast-enabled broadband service, while BT is set to follow in the coming months following extensive trials. (See BT & G.fast: A Mission Accomplished?)
In addition, Deutsche Telekom, Proximus and Telekom Austria, among others, are planning deployments, making Europe a hotbed of G.fast action.
A further catalyst for G.fast deployments in Europe is likely to be the European Commission's decision to set a target of delivering
minimum broadband speeds of 100 Mbit/s to 50% of households by 2020 as part of its Digital Single Market initiatives. If that goal is to be achieved -- delivering 100Mbit/s broadband to at least 110 million homes across Europe -- it seems very likely that a mix of technologies (fiber, DOCSIS 3.0/3.1 and G.fast over copper) will likely need to be deployed.
In North America, early G.fast activity has focused on potential rollouts in multi-dwelling units (MDUs). (See CenturyLink Plants G.fast Flag With Calix and AT&T Explores G.fast for MDUs.)
In Asia-Pacific, China and Japan are expected to drive growth but there are already signs of trials and expected deployments in Australia. (See Why NBN Has a Multi-Technology Mix.)
Israeli specialist Sckipio Technologies, founded by a veteran team of communications experts with deep experience in broadband access and home networking solutions, was the first semiconductor company focused on developing G.fast-specific products, raising its first investment round in 2013.
Since then, comms chipset giant Broadcom has entered the market, while Metanoia is also challenging. Qualcomm had entered the fray by acquiring Ikanos in 2015 but seemed to step back somewhat when it folded that operation in August this year.
G.fast was originally intended as a short-distance technology -- over copper lines shorter than 100 metres -- but thanks in part to BT's demands and energy the chipset vendor community has now developed chips that can enable G.fast services over lines of up to 500 meters long, in addition to other innovations such as increasing the number of vectoring ports.
Critics argue that using G.fast is a false economy -- another way to delay the inevitable and invest in fiber-to-the-home/premises. But it's clear there's a growing market for this technology, especially now that it can be deployed in existing street cabinets: Research house Ovum estimates there will be 30 million broadband users hooked up to a G.fast connection by 2021.
It's also clear, though, that G.fast has its challenges. (See G.fast Could Use a Boost.)
So will the G.fast chip vendors be battling over a $4.2 billion market by 2022? That's very debatable.
— Elliot Richards, Senior Editor, UBB2020