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Heavy Reading: Copper Networks Not Dead Yet

NEW YORK -- Technology advancements are leading many big telcos to rethink their copper replacement strategies for broadband access, to the point that copper is likely to remain an important part of wireline networks through at least 2030, according to the latest report from Heavy Reading Insider (www.heavyreading.com/insider), a subscription research service from Heavy Reading (www.heavyreading.com).

Copper for Superfast Residential Broadband looks at the key enhancements to DSL copper access – focusing on bonding of copper pairs, vectoring, Phantom Mode and the emerging G.fast technology. It considers where, why and when each of these technologies might be deployed, and reviews the relevant portfolios of a number of the leading vendors of access equipment and solutions, summarizing and comparing their offers.

For a list of companies covered in this report, http://twimgs.com/audiencedevelopment/LRHR/PDFS/hri0813_companies_2.pdf.

"Telcos are finding reasons to switch efforts from fiber rollout to copper enhancement," says Danny Dicks, research analyst with Heavy Reading Insider and author of the report. "Operators deploying fiber to the node (FTTN) will be well-placed to put in FTTH later, or use whatever copper technologies come along," he says. "Copper has decades of life, and with FTTN/C, VDSL2 and vectoring, telcos can offer 100 Mbit/s, compete with cable companies, and keep regulators happy by speeding the deployment of superfast broadband."

Copper-based access will remain very important to most telcos for many years, even where those telcos are committed to rolling out fiber, Dicks says. "VDSL2 and vectoring are key now: Enhancements can reduce the need for engineer home visits and cope with a mix of vectored and non-vectored lines effectively, in large binder groups at nodes of any scale," he continues. "The availability of new small, sealed VDSL2 DSLAMs, and of digital regenerators and repeaters for xDSL lines, increase the range of options for telcos, which are making difficult network investment decisions now in conjunction with their equipment vendor partners."

Key findings of Copper for Superfast Residential Broadband include the following:

  • New small DSLAMs, digital signal regenerators and enhanced DSL technologies are increasing the range of options for telcos
  • Bonding makes sense for residential last drop deployment in only limited circumstances
  • VDSL2 and vectoring have significant momentum; bigger systems and new solutions make it easier to apply vectoring to more lines
  • G.fast is some months from being standardized; technical and deployment challenges of impulse interference and reverse powering remain
  • Vendors believe there is a short-term opportunity to use advanced copper technologies for small cell backhaul, to help mobile operators meet the demand for increased data rates

    Copper for Superfast Residential Broadband is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (12 issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,995. Individual reports are available for $900 (single-user license).

    To subscribe, or for more information, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/insider. For more information about other Heavy Reading Insider research services, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/research. Heavy Reading

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