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Ultra-high Speed Gigaband Set to Revolutionise Global Connectivity

A new era of faster than ever internet connectivity is about to dawn, courtesy of the advent of the gigaband, ultra-rapid broadband that will change the way the world goes on line, according to exhibitors at the Broadband World Forum.

Photo: Gigaband: Will ultra-high speed connectivity change the way the world does business? (Shutterstock.com)
Gigaband: Will ultra-high speed connectivity change the way the world does business?
Photo: Gigaband: Will ultra-high speed connectivity change the way the world does business? (Shutterstock.com)
Gigaband: Will ultra-high speed connectivity change the way the world does business?

So called 'gigaband' was the talk of London's Broadband World Forum. Far broader than broadband, this very high speed data infrastructure of the future is said to allow ever greater integration and data sharing across public, private and commercial spheres. This is thanks in no small part to advances in hybrid fibre optic/copper cable infrastructure, a development driven by consumer demand for ever faster connection speeds.

Apart from improving existing IT infrastructure, this year's other keynote topic was extending coverage to the estimated 2.5 billion people across the world without any access. This was seen as likely boost the economic prospects of developing economies, while providing an enormous business opportunity for service providers.

From the very beginning, with the Chair's 8.50 am opening address on day one, to the closing ceremony three days later, the event's calendar was packed with seminars, product launches, presentations and networking opportunities. In all, more than 300 speakers were drafted in to provide updates on bandwidth, network technology, connectivity, user experience and that potential industry game-changer – gigaband.

The route map to this brave new world is the Forum's own policy document, Broadband 20/20, one of a number of initiatives launched at the event. According to the staff at the Forum's Interoperability Pavilion, Broadband 20/20 is a blueprint for the future of the industry, setting out the potential of new markets with a vision of maintaining revenue growth by leveraging new technologies in the home, small business and the multi-infrastructure elements of the broadband network.

The spirit of Broadband 20/20 was embodied in BT's G.fast hybrid-fibre and copper broadband technology, a preview of which gave attendees an early taster of the British telecommunication giant's vision of how it will deliver ultrafast connectivity over the next decade. Seeing it in action highlighted the real-time increase in broadband speed that can be achieved using copper lines and the way that this will impact on global digital infrastructures.

Huawei, the Chinese Information and communications technology company and global partner of the Broadband World Forum, took centre stage at the event with an impressive display featuring the company's extensive product range. The company is headquartered in Shenzhen and has a turnover in excess of US$46 billion, while employing more than 170,000 staff. The company's mission at the show, however, amounted to far more than merely showing off its current products and services.

Stefano Giachetti, the company's Senior Product Manager, played host to its virtual wireless home – a display that demonstrated the company's vision of just how the gigaband era will play out. In the case of Huawei, it sees three things in particular as defining the future shape of the industry – high bandwidth, an excellent user experience and widespread coverage.

In line with this, the virtual wireless home showcased access control, smart heating and lighting, as well as an entertainment centre – all controlled from a glass coffee table console. According to Giachetti, while the installation demonstrated what was achievable, there was still a long way to go.

Photo: Some 8,000 delegates attended the latest Forum.
Some 8,000 delegates attended the latest Forum.
Photo: Some 8,000 delegates attended the latest Forum.
Some 8,000 delegates attended the latest Forum.
Photo: BT’s super-fast G.fast system.
BT's super-fast G.fast system.
Photo: BT’s super-fast G.fast system.
BT's super-fast G.fast system.

He said: "We are at the beginning of ultra-broadband, but for the gigaband era to become a reality, there needs to be a global spread of network coverage."

Echoing his sentiments, Liy Shuqing, Huawei's Ultra-broadband Solutions Expert, said: "The existing and future demands of users will be the engine that drives the development of gigaband."

As the world of broadband continues to develop, the importance of connectivity becomes ever more significant, which, roughly translated, is the brand strapline of Keymile, a Hanover-based manufacturer of data transmission systems. This year, the access technology company was in London to promote its MileGate product range. Introducing the range, Marcus Bick, the company's Head of Sales, said: "The show has been very good for us. There has been a lot of interest in our MileGate fibre series – a compact multi-service platform for a variety of uses."

Intel Connected Home Division, a subsidiary of the California-based technology company was, this year, foccussing on solutions for the smart home. Addressing the company's aims, Rainer Spielberg, Head of Sales Line, said: "Our challenge is to transform people's digital lives through products and systems that create fully connected home experiences, such as seamless media streaming and the Internet of Things."

In line with this, Intel's stand featured several home 2.5G data distribution set-ups. It currently provides these connectivity solutions to OEMs and network and service providers on a global basis.

Tilgin, the Swedish-based international home solutions provider, meanwhile, had on offer an extensive range of products, including its Fibre Termination, Home Gateway and Wi-Fi Extender systems. It also had a particular focus on it tGem, the company's auto-configuration command and control server.

Keen to push Tilgin's new managed fibre solution, Gustaf Lagercrantz, the company's Sales Director, said: "The MSA970 is an important new part of our home solutions portfolio. It has the ability to separate the home gateway from the fibre entrance within the home."

Another prominent exhibitor at the event was Shenzhen-based TP-Link, a global provider of networking products and a leader in the provision of WLAN and broadband CPE devices. Mark Torrans, TP-Link's UK Sales Director was particularly keen to promote the company's new OnHub router, a product designed both for its functionality and aesthetic looks and one it developed in conjunction with Google, the internet search giant.

The OnHub has many benefits for the end user, including its facility to searches for the least crowded Wi-Fi signal in public areas, while also providing more bandwidth to any device designated by the user. It's truly unique feature, however, are its 13 cylindrical high-powered antennae, designed to provide Wi-Fi coverage in all directions throughout the home. On the TP-Link website, the OnHub retails at $199.99.

Also attracting attention was Kraków-based AVSystem, providers of advanced device management solutions for telcos and device manufacturers. While its portfolio of products is led by its flagship Unified Device Management Platform, Jan Sandhen, the company's International Sales Director, was more inclined to talk up Linkyfi, its Wi-Fi management platform. He said: "There's been a lot of interest in Linkyfi. Our e-marketing captive portal enables clients to customise advertising campaigns and gather marketing information, something that monetizes free Wi-Fi access."

Ericsson, of course, stood large at the Broadband World Forum and rightly so. It is, after all, one of the most important providers of telecommunications and networking equipment in the world. Overall, the Swedish giant is responsible for supplying networks that carry 40% of the world's mobile traffic, with its services utilised by more than one billion subscribers.

According to Anders Hilbur, External Communications Manager for the company's Cloud and IP Business Unit, there is now fundamental change occurring in the way that communicate and socialise and – ultimately – make decisions together. He said: "A fully networked society is our vision and it will come from better mobility."

Photo: Huawei: A Chinese company helping to shape global connectivity.
Huawei: A Chinese company helping to shape global connectivity.
Photo: Huawei: A Chinese company helping to shape global connectivity.
Huawei: A Chinese company helping to shape global connectivity.

The Broadband World Forum was held at London's Excel Exhibition Centre. Over three days, it attracted more than 8,000 visitors from 135 countries.

David Wilkinson, Special Correspondent, London

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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