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G.Fast startup readies silicon as standard signed off

Sckipio Tech hits the ground running

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With G.fast getting formal ITU consent as G.9700 and G.9701, the race will be on to ship production hardware to the standard, and that's helped an Israeli silicon startup raise $US10 million in funding from US and Israeli ventures.

Sckipio Technologies, incorporated in 2012, is pitching modem chipset and software bundles at vendors and service providers now looking at G.Fast deployments.

Marketing VP Michael Weissman told The Register that with the standard in place, “there's a real effort in bringing silicon to market quickly”.

The Sckipio Technologies founding team comprises alumni from CopperGate Communications, a specialist in silicon for the networked home market, sold in 2009 to Sigma Designs for $US116 million in cash plus 3.9 million Sigma shares.

Between 2012 and now, Weissman said, and including the founding team's work at CopperGate before that, the group has worked with 80 service providers including France Telecom and BT, and is a member of Europe's Celtic-Plus broadband consortium. The company has also been active in G.Fast standard development, with Weissman saying Sckipio had contributed “about 20 percent” of the standard.

Counting the founders' previous experience, he said, “We've spent about 2,000 man-hours doing field trials with service providers – going down the holes where the rats are."

Weissman said the company expects field trials of standard (rather than pre-standard) G.Fast technologies to be taking place next year using qualified silicon (hopefully, from Sckipio's point of view, in products using its silicon). The field trials should be followed in short order by live deployments between late 2014 and 2015.

First shipments will use a 106 MHz baseband signal, but Weissman pointed out that the standard has room to move to a 200 MHz baseband signal. However, he said, the acclaimed gigabit performance of G.Fast (within the standard's distance limitations) isn't dependent on the higher baseband frequency: “I think we can achieve 1 G without having to go to 200 MHz.”

Weissman said gigabit performance should be achievable in most markets at the standardised distance of 250 metres between the node and the end user.

That's a statement bound to cause contention in Australia, where critics of the new government's preference for fibre-to-the-node focus on the state of Telstra's copper.

“Even though your pits are the pits, we're confident that G.Fast is going to do just fine. You're going to bring optical to the pit, and you're probably going to reconnect things. If the wires are corroded at the end – you trim them,” he said.

Excessive crosstalk will be mitigated, Weissman said, because fibre will be replacing the largest cable bundles. In the 16-pair or 32-pair bundles that fan out from node to home, he said, “the algorithms in G.fast vectoring … offer an advanced and flexible approach to deal with crosstalk mitigation.”

It's in the multi-dwelling unit (MDU) that Sckipio believes G.Fast will really hit its straps: once fibre is terminated in the basement, most of the fibre runs will be far shorter than 250 metres.

“G.Fast is excellent for MDUs … it's aligned to that kind of use-case,” Weissman said.

Sckipio's investors are Gemini Israel Ventures, Genesis Partners, Amiti Capital, and Aviv Ventures. ®

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