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VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
3/30/2004
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With deployment of 100-Mbit/s VDSL (very-high-speed digital subscriber line) equipment likely to start in Japan next month, early standards efforts are starting to emerge, according to chip vendors.

As with recent VDSL rounds, the 100-Mbit/s race comes down to Ikanos Communications Inc. versus Metalink Ltd. (Nasdaq: MTLK), each one pitching a different technology. The companies demonstrated their 100-Mbit/s chips side by side in a session at the FastNet Futures conference today.

Ikanos is pushing for its VDSL2 to become a North American standard, having submitted it to the T1E1.4 working group for consideration. Metalink, with support from NTT Group (NYSE: NTT), submitted its VDSLPlus to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for standardization about a month ago, says John Egan, Metalink's director of sales for North America.

Those efforts could cross paths with an eight-band proposal recently submitted to the Telecommunication Technology Committee (TTC), Japan's equivalent to North America's T1E1 group, according to Richard Sekar, vice president of marketing at Ikanos. Egan says he's not aware of the eight-band proposal yet.

For now, "100 Mbit/s" means 100 Mbit/s downstream and 50 Mbit/s upstream, which Sekar says NTT plans to deploy starting in April. Ikanos and Metalink both say they're developing chips running 100 Mbit/s in both directions.

So who cares about this standards stuff? Well, carriers for one. Standards are supposed to drive down the cost of equipment by creating direct competition. With Ikanos and Metalink pitting different specs against each other, those price drops will take longer to arrive. Equipment vendors likewise have to stake their bets on either side, whereas with universal standards, they could grab anybody's chips -- handy in case of shortages or supply-chain glitches.

Metalink developed its VDSLPlus 100-Mbit/s chips in conjunction with Japan's NTT, which combines fiber to the premises (FTTP) with VDSL to reach each household. The chips' first design win is with Fujitsu Access Ltd., which is developing VDSL equipment for NTT's use and is under the gun to do so quickly, Egan says (see NTT to Spend $2.6B on FTTP, Fiber Boosts VDSL Biz, and Metalink, Fujitsu Offer 100-Mbit/s DSL).

"NTT wanted to be the first to claim 100-Mbit/s service," Egan says. "They have been aggressively pushing [Fujitsu] to get a system out."

The U.S. might not be far behind, as Sekar claims Ikanos's VDSL2 chips have drawn the interest of a U.S. carrier that could deploy 100 Mbit/s in trials by year's end. That would be a surprising twist, given that U.S. DSL tends to lag Asia the way fashions in Albania lag the latest from Paris.

"It's hard to believe, but we're very active in North America," Sekar says. "We are working closely with people [in the U.S.] who say they need 100 Mbit/s downstream and 25 Mbit/s upstream." Trials could start by the end of this year, he says.

Sekar wouldn't reveal which carrier is considering this, but it almost has to be an incumbent. "It would have to be one of the phone companies, because they have right of way," says Charles Hoffman, CEO of Covad Communications Inc. (OTC: COVD).

Separately, Metalink and Ikanos aren't saying much any more about the QAM versus DMT debate. The acronyms stand for incompatible line-code schemes that duked it out in a "VDSL Olympics" series of tests last summer. DMT -- Ikanos's side -- appeared to win, allowing longer reaches at certain speed grades, but QAM supporters, including Metalink, responded that newer versions of their chips could match DMT's performance (see DMT Chips Win 'VDSL Olympics').

Ikanos considers the matter settled, with DMT the winner. QAM supporters can point to an installed base of QAM-based VDSL as well as the fact that the scheme is used by the cable industry.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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redface
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redface,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:43 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
If VDSL can do symmetric 100 Mb/s upstream and downstream, can it be used to provide triple play video, voice and data? Is there a place for FTTH in light of this development? Someone please provide an answer. Thanks.
splitEndz
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splitEndz,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:42 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
Only 100 meters. That's the answer.
Requires new fiber-fed powered equipment w/in 100m of homes, where no such equipment is now.
In other words, if it's an underground installation, it requires 99% of the trenching costs of full FTTH. FTTH equipment is cheaper, more scalable, standardized, and can be aggregated in far higher quantities much farther back. I can't see the logic for VDSL to be chosen over FTTH for such a case.

Using VDSL to distribute through a MTU via in-building copper makes good sense though.



link
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link,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:42 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
Ikanos is reportedly achieving 100Mbps downstream and 30 Mbps upstream over 300 feet of copper. Metalink is claiming similar speeds over 300 Meters.

http://www.metalink.co.il/site...

The distance has a direct impact on the number of equipment sites you must have to serve a fixed number of subscribers. While the speeds are impressive, there is the question of what the target applications (residential, high density multi tenant unitts, etc.) are that make economic sense. In addition to the costs associated with the number of distibuted sites, there also other considerations such as power for FTTP and cost of ONT, immunity to cross talk or radio interference, the cost of ploughing fiber etc...


There is even the possibility that the two technologies might be complementary as the PON technologies of FTTx could be used to feed VDSL2 devices in the last 300 meters. My own 2 cents, I dont think VDSL will kill FTTx, but it really depends on price as much as it does on the technology.

splitEndz
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splitEndz,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:41 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
from the article: "Sekar wouldn't reveal which [US] carrier is considering this [VDSL], but it almost has to be an incumbent. "It would have to be one of the phone companies, because they have right of way," says Charles Hoffman, CEO of Covad
-----
Many different entities have RoW. It has to be a phone company because it uses their installed copper phone wires from the current curbside pedestals (the little 1 ft by 1 ft green box) that serve 6-16 homes.
technonerd
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technonerd,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:40 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
If VDSL can do symmetric 100 Mb/s upstream and downstream, can it be used to provide triple play video, voice and data? Is there a place for FTTH in light of this development?
The first thing you need to understand is that 100 Mb/s is a vendor lie amplified by an uncriticial trade press that does nothing but reprint press releases.

It won't get anywhere near "100 Mb/s" in actual deployments. The devil will be in the details. What's the wire gauge? How far? What about bridge taps and loading coils? What about cross-talk? Notice that none of these issues are discussed. Inevitably, the "100 Mb/s" VDSL will deliver a small fraction of that data rate.
optoslob
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optoslob,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:33 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
Link, I agree completely
Technonerd learn the game, the longest VDSL / UDSL links that I have heard of are about 1000 ft. So for actual deployment in single family home case VDSL would need a fiber drop for every 6 to 10 houses. If you assume 10 houses than it makes sense for this fiber link to the CO to be GigE. Since you need to route fiber basically past the house it begs the question why not go the whole way with fiber (i.e. PON).

Regarding where VDSL will get deployed, I think it will be 80% in Asia. So the winning solutions will solve some wiring problems within High rise apartments. Since the reach is basically the same as 100BaseT and most deployments will be over new wire I'm not sure I see the value of VDSL. Assuming the CO to curb link is kept as cheap as possible and uses datacom optics than the link protocol will be GigE, so the splitter would only be a standard GigE to 10 * 100BaseT. This is simple and available today.

Why would I want to mess with VDSL?

optoslob


technonerd
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technonerd,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:32 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
Technonerd learn the game, the longest VDSL / UDSL links that I have heard of are about 1000 ft. So for actual deployment in single family home case VDSL would need a fiber drop for every 6 to 10 houses. If you assume 10 houses than it makes sense for this fiber link to the CO to be GigE. Since you need to route fiber basically past the house it begs the question why not go the whole way with fiber (i.e. PON)
Various VDSL proposals use varying wire lengths. If the 100 Mb/s version only does that over 100 metres then it's even more laughable than I thought. As for FTTH, I am not a believer. The technology works, but I don't think the business case works at all.
truelight
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truelight,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:31 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
Ikanos makes a lot of claims they just want to get bought out.
ipclown
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ipclown,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:16 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
The question one needs to answer is: "Do you think 100Mbps is sufficient to provide triple play?"

There's a present day limit to copper. The answer to the question above tells you whether FTTx is needed or not, based on your deployment horizon.
ipclown
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ipclown,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 2:08:15 AM
re: VDSL Races to 100 Mbit/s
"Only 100 meters. That's the answer."

Is it? Just how real is that number anyway when it's in the field.
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