& cplSiteName &

Bell Labs Prez: 40Gbit/s Copper on Horizon

Iain Morris
3/12/2015
50%
50%

Far from being ripe for replacement, copper is still bearing fruit as vendors squeeze ever more bandwidth from aging phone lines, and it's not likely to dry up anytime soon, according to Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs and CTO of Alcatel-Lucent.

Last July, Bell Labs , the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), claimed to have set a new world record for broadband speeds over copper of 10 Gbit/s, using a technology it calls XG-FAST. Industry observers could have been forgiven for thinking that was about as much capability as the equipment vendor would ever get from a test network not based on FTTH architecture.

But Weldon thinks Bell Labs can do even better. "I'm sure we'll find a way of doing 30 Gbit/s or 40 Gbit/s," he tells Light Reading. "We're getting to the point where copper is almost outpacing fiber in the access domain."

Multi-gigabit copper clearly has a long way to go before it sees the commercial light of day, but Weldon's confidence in copper will bring a smile to the faces of executives at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) and Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) -- major European operators that have continued to resist investing in FTTH networks, despite the mounting pressure they are feeling from cable operators preparing for a DOCSIS 3.1 future.

Using G.fast, a standardized predecessor of XG-FAST, BT reckons it will be able to provide speeds of up to 500 Mbit/s to most UK premises over the next few years, and even support 1Gbit/s services for the most bandwidth-hungry customers. (See G.fast: The Dawn of Gigabit Copper? and BT Puts G.fast at Heart of Ultra-Fast Broadband Plans.)


The rollout of Gigabit broadband access networks is spreading. Find out what's happening where in our dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel here on Light Reading.


So far, Deutsche Telekom has been revving up its broadband network through the use of vectoring, which can increase bandwidth to a theoretical high of 100 Mbit/s by cutting out interference between lines. (See Vectoring: Some Va-Va-Voom for VDSL and DT Expands Its Vectoring Commitments.)

But it also has G.fast in its sights. At Mobile World Congress held in Barcelona earlier this month, the German incumbent promised that over the next few years it would increase broadband speeds to 500 Mbit/s for about 12% of households across its European footprint. Although it is planning FTTH rollouts in some countries, it expects copper-fortifying technologies like G.fast to fit the bill elsewhere. (See DT's Höttges Says Hybrid Is 'Not Answer to Cable'.)

Even so, as Weldon acknowledges, getting from G.fast to XG-FAST will not be a straightforward upgrade. Chips will need changing, for one thing, and fiber will need to be extended even closer to the customer premise.

"It'll have to be about 30 to 50 meters away from the end user, instead of 100 meters with G.fast," says Weldon. "But you'll be saving on that drop to the house, which is the most expensive part of the deployment."

Weldon is skeptical that homes will need services of 10 Gbit/s or more but reckons XG-FAST and subsequent technologies could be ideal for small offices with multiple tenants.

Before any of that happens, of course, the industry can look forward to some G.fast improvements. Current deployments use up to 106MHz of spectrum, compared with just 17MHz in vectored VDSL2 networks, but a new version of G.fast that is "just about finalizing" -- according to Weldon -- will increase the available spectrum to as much as 212MHz.

Fiber remains the ultimate goal for just about every player, but operators may be able to keep milking those copper assets for some time yet.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

(2)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
mhhf1ve
50%
50%
mhhf1ve,
User Rank: Light Sabre
3/13/2015 | 10:41:20 PM
Re: Copper fortification or fiber?
The quality of "real world" copper going into actual homes is going to matter a lot. If there are economical tests to ensure copper in neighborhoods is good enough, then it shouldn't be too hard a choice to keep using the copper... but without good ways to tell if large networks of copper are still usable, it might be better to start over with fiber instead of deploying things in a piecemeal fashion.
iainmorris
50%
50%
iainmorris,
User Rank: Blogger
3/13/2015 | 6:41:14 AM
Copper fortification or fiber?
A key question for service providers is whether a series of copper upgrades -- moving through vectoring, G.fast, XG-FAST and whatever comes next -- is ultimately going to prove costlier than just taking that fiber plunge.
More Blogs from Morris Lore
The standard narrative that heavy-handed regulation is undermining Europe's telecom sector is a myth that needs busting.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of Light Reading's jargonosaurus, in which we take aim at some of the worst language abuses in the telecom sector.
Fines against telecom and technology companies rarely seem effective.
Telco wades into successful content business and tells award-winning staff to get their act together.
Industry concern that Europe has already fallen behind the US in 5G seems massively overblown.
Featured Video
From The Founder
John Chambers is still as passionate about business and innovation as he ever was at Cisco, finds Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 12, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 6, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Adtran Will Be a 5G Winner, Says Analyst
Iain Morris, News Editor, 7/19/2018
Trump Trashes EU's $5B Google Fine
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 7/19/2018
Get Off My Wireline Lawn!
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 7/17/2018
Eurobites: EU Socks Google With $5B Monster-Fine for Android Control-Freakery
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 7/18/2018
Netflix Is Growing, but Don't Ask by How Much
Phil Harvey, US News Editor, 7/16/2018
Upcoming Webinars
Webinar Archive
Animals with Phones
Casual Tuesday Takes On New Meaning Click Here
When you forget your pants.
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed