If you’re searching for evidence of the “green” movement in the tech world, you need look no further than broadband.
The broadband industry is quite literally wringing every last dime it can out of the “repurpose and reuse” principle. How you ask? By finding ways to transmit faster and faster speeds over existing phone lines.
For about a third of what it costs to re-cable the customer “last mile” with fiber, business and residential customers have been enjoying decent service over copper. But never at anything that approaches the speeds available over fiber optic wiring.
To be more specific, copper has topped out at 1.6Gbps until only just recently. The latest buzz has been all about the new IEEE 802.3bz standard which raises speeds to 2.5Gbps for Cat5e cable and 5Gbps for Cat6.
An intermediary step to be sure, but a strong one nonetheless.
ISPs, businesses, and municipalities are still nervously awaiting the day when customer demand will exceed copper speeds and expensive fiber recabling will need to begin.
Thanks to a handful of innovative companies like Sckipio, Assia, KPN, and Alcatel-Lucent, that day of reckoning has been postponed. Super-ultra speeds will soon be available over copper.
Let’s take a deeper look at these developments and what they mean for customer experiences heading into the new year.
Four Breaking Broadband Technologies
Delivery of Ultra-fast Broadband is contingent upon a multi-technology approach.
In their latest whitepaper, Assia outlines 4 of these Ultra-Fast Broadband Technologies: Vectored VDSL, G.now, G.fast, and GPON.
Vectored VDSL delivers peak speeds of 50-100 Mbps by aggregating multiple streams. Vectors are physical layers that cancel crosstalk (signal noise interference between paired and bonded cables). Vectored VDSL costs between $300 to $500 per line.
G.now is a MARVELL brand for platformed G.hn techology. G.hn is an ITU-T standard, that delivers at speeds of 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
Costing approximately $1100 outlay per line, G.now is most suitable for fiber-to-the-streets or fiber-to-the-basement deployments–meaning it focuses on nodes nearest the customer location. Ongoing crosstalk and interference management is required.
G.fast offers speeds of 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Capital expenditure per subscriber line is $1400. Deployment requirements are similar to the G.now technology.
GPON is the most expensive of these new technologies running anywhere from $2500 to $5000 per line, but downstream speeds can reach 2.5 Gbps, which are shared across a group of subscribers. GPON is best suited for new construction scenarios.
We’ll continue the discussion by focusing on specific features found in these technologies.
What is Vectoring?
Vectored VDSL uses signal processing to elevate gain and signal quality. This cancels crosstalk from lines that terminate from a DSLAM. The interference is usually caused by things like impulse noise, radio frequency ingress and static from powerlines.
This method can deliver speeds of more than 100 Mbps to each home on short lines, with diminishing speed increases on longer lines where crosstalk is weaker.
Combined bandwidth areas
The architecture uses IP layer bonding for aggregating a collection of Vectored VDSL broadband links. This allows for multiple home bandwidth sharing.
Beyond signal processing used to cancel crosstalk other technologies are coming into play.
Frequency Spectrums and the Role of WiFi
Faster broadband is not a single-technology solution. Companies are also tapping into WiFi to increase speed.
The thing is, there are only so many frequencies available thanks to the laws of physics.
KPN and Alcatel-Lucent are two companies stretching what you can do within frequency bands. Using 17MHz and 30MHz ranges, they have clocked speeds of 200Mbps over 400m loops, and 300Mbps over 200m loops of upgraded copper in the lab. As expected, the shorter the loop, the higher the speeds achieved in these experiments.
Note: The closer you can place the final node to your customer, the faster the service you can provide.
35b improves speed and performance
Gfastnew.com recently published an article on 35b, a technology that companies like Alcatel, Huawei, Adtran and others are working on for the German market, that is tearing things up at 150 megabits downstream.
The name 35b comes from the 35 Mhz frequency range that is being used to boost DSL speeds. But it doesn’t stop there. Groups working on these kinds of developments are not limiting themselves to 35MHz.
G.now Hybrid and Fiber-to-the-Home
G.now uses 50m – 200m copper phone line or Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cable over the last mile of connection — from the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) to the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE).
The G.now technology is a branded solution owned by MARVELL.
G.now lines are fed by EPON, GPON, or active ethernet. G.now does not include a vectoring engine, so crosstalk noise needs to be managed external to this technology.
EPON – Ethernet Passive Optical Network
GPON – Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Network
Optical, of course, refers to fiber-optic cable. Hence, there is a hybridization of the cable landscape but copper is retained in the customer last mile with all of its cost benefit.
G.fast Offers a Different Approach
The aim of G.fast is to achieve ultra-high speeds over copper twisted pair sometimes even exceeding 1Gbps over 50m to 250m loops with frequencies of up to 212MHz.
This technology uses Time Division Duplexing (TDD) instead of Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) to switch between upstream and downstream transmissions.
Though not yet available, G.fast will deploy in a Fiber-To-The-distribution point architecture (FTTdp). This distribution point terminal or “drop-wire terminal” is also called a DSL Access Multiplexer (DSLAM) and is located at a Distribution Point outside the DSP.
Copper cables come after the DSLAM and connect the terminal to the Customer Premises Equipment CPE.
GPON Extends Fiber All the Way to the Home
GPON can reach speeds of 2,488 Mbps in the downstream direction and another 1,244 Mbps up, but it is a fibre-optic solution. Although a more expensive solution, the benefit to GPON is that it shares fiber among multiple subscribers.
It is a fiber installation outside of the home.
The Green Movement is alive and well in Broadband, lowering cost by prolonging the use of existing phone lines. In the case of Power over Ethernet (PoE), not only is the original architecture in use but that architecture is also a power source.
Of course, the clock is still ticking. Exactly how much longer repurposed phone lines will be able to meet customer demands is anyone’s guess.
Regardless, innovators have been busy finding ways to take inherent capabilities and stretch them to new limits. These recent advances will definitely help many businesses delay expensive re-cabling for years to come.