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Turning Copper into Gold

Ray Le Maistre
7/17/2013

Fiber to the home (FTTH) might be the ultimate broadband goal for fixed line operators, but there have always been those who have focused on how to extend the life of -- and get more from -- the hundreds of millions of copper access lines already in the ground and in use by telecom operators around the world.

One of those people is ASSIA Inc. CEO John Cioffi, who for the past decade or so has been developing technology that can help boost the efficiency and speed of DSL broadband connections. (See Valley Wonk: DSL Man.)

As FTTH strategies stall, due to cost, operational challenges or regulatory pressures, many carriers are looking for ways to make the most of their copper access lines with technologies such as vectoring and the DSL line management tools that boost throughput and maximize potential capacity.

Major access infrastructure vendors, particularly Alcatel-Lucent, are finding success with their VDSL2 vectoring products, while ASSIA continues to make headway with major broadband service providers with its copper line acceleration technology.

ASSIA has been around a long time and always promoting the same message -- that operators don't need to invest right now in fiber access lines in order to offer fast broadband services of up to 100 Mbit/s. (See ASSIA Gets Behind DSL Management.)

Now more operators are listening and are turning to the likes of AlcaLu and ASSIA to make more of their existing copper lines, particularly in markets where there is competition from cable operators that are deploying DOCSIS 3.0 infrastructure.

The latest to do so is Telefónica SA, which has been putting ASSIA's tools through their paces, having invested in the broadband line management specialist in late 2010.

Telefónica, which offers fixed line broadband across Europe and Latin America, has agreed to deploy a range of the vendor's diagnostic, line repair and customer care support tools across multiple markets covering 8 million broadband lines, with initial deployments in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru.

ASSIA CEO John Cioffi is widely recognized as a broadband visionary -- that's one of the reasons we have him in the Light Reading Hall of Fame. He has stuck with his mission and persevered with his research and development investments and, with more than 60 million lines being managed by ASSIA technology, that's starting to pay off. (See Light Reading's Hall of Fame: ASSIA's John Cioffi.)

And with the endorsement of yet another Tier 1 operator's deployment, there's likely to be further success down the (copper) line for ASSIA.

-- Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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DanJones
DanJones
12/26/2013 | 5:20:50 PM
re: Turning Copper into Gold
Meanwhile, Thieves are turning copper into cash:

http://newscenter.verizon.com/residential/news-articles/2013/12-18-verizon-public-safety-at-risk-due-to-theft/
Ray Le Maistre
Ray Le Maistre
7/19/2013 | 3:43:35 PM
re: Turning Copper into Gold
And I think the one that has been using DSM for the longest - about 7 years or so? Can't remember if it kicked off at BellSouth...
brookseven
brookseven
7/19/2013 | 12:24:23 AM
re: Turning Copper into Gold
Of course, the largest user of this technology is AT&T. Outside U-verse they are one of those DSL providers.

seven
Bob Brown
Bob Brown
7/19/2013 | 12:01:43 AM
re: Turning Copper into Gold
3-6 Mbps DSL providers need to quickly get their rears in gear with this wondrous improvement, or they will lose all their broadband business to the Cablecos.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson
7/18/2013 | 12:31:48 PM
re: Turning Copper into Gold
It seems you can't go wrong predicting continued life for copper -- certainly, all of us at some point have been guilty of prematurely predicting its death.
Ray Le Maistre
Ray Le Maistre
7/18/2013 | 10:41:52 AM
re: Turning Copper into Gold
There's no doubt that fiber all the way to the home and business is the future for any location where it's physically possible. But in the meantime, copper appears to have a longer shelf-life than many people would have imagined 5 years ago, when there was a great deal of optimism around widespread FTTH/B rollouts, many of which have not (or hardly) materialized. And the advances in copper line management will continue -- companies such as ASSIA are not going to sit on their hands and consider the job done. Operators are investing in these copper enhancement technologies now, and they're not just doing it for short-term gains...
GeoTel
GeoTel
7/18/2013 | 9:14:35 AM
re: Turning Copper into Gold
These improvements are smart for areas that aren't ready to upgrade their infrastructure but long term, copper speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s isn't going to be able to compete with fiber, which is capable of speeds up to 100 GigE and
some people estimate that will reach 400 GigE.
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