Verizon trial of fiber-optic network reaches nearly 1Gbit/sec.

Google also wants 1Gbit/sec. to the home via fiber

Verizon today said a fiber-optic field trial it conducted in June for a business customer in Taunton, Mass., delivered near gigabit-per-second speeds.

The customer received 925Mbit/sec. throughput to a server at its business location from a Verizon central office less than two miles away, Verizon officials said. Speeds of 800Mbit/sec. were recorded to regional speed test servers 400 miles away.

Verizon has reached higher speeds in laboratory tests using the gigabit passive optical network (GPON) switches and other gear developed by Motorola that Verizon has been installing for two years, but this is the first publicized field trial.

The nearly gigabit-per-second speeds could rival speeds expected in Google's "Think Big with a Gig" experimental fiber-optic network first announced in February that has drawn interest from more than 1,100 communities nationwide.

Google wants to set up a fiber network trial in one or more locations with 1Gbit/sec. connections to 50,000 to 500,000 people. Google is expected to announce the location by the end of the year.

The Verizon trial, however, is based on an existing network, a Verizon spokesman noted. "We are not competing with things [Google is] planning," said the spokesman, Philip Santoro. "They may be thinking about competing with things we already have. We have the network in place today."

The customer in the trial was not named. The trial was intended to demonstrate in a live network setting that Verizon's currently deployed FiOS gear can support higher-bandwidth services for 3DTV, desktop virtualization, remote storage and wireless backhaul without a major change to the network.

FiOS is offered at a speed of 50Mbit/sec. to business and residential customers. Verizon officials could not say when or even whether faster speeds like those in the Taunton field trial might be offered, or whether the additional capacity might be used by Verizon to ensure gradual increases in system capacity as more users and bandwidth-hungry applications tax the network.

The GPON platform is intended to go beyond the rating of the field trial -- up to 2.4Gbit/sec. downstream and 1.2Gbit/sec. upstream -- although such speeds have not been seen in the field using Verizon's network.

Vincent O'Byrne, director of Verizon's technology group, said in a statement that the trial demonstrated that the GPON platform can be used to progressively increase fiber-optic throughput capacity as needed by both residential and business customers.

Verizon did not describe the level of bandwidth to each individual user in the field trial.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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