Prototype XG-FAST technology could be used to vastly improve connection speeds between the street and the premises – no fibre required
Bell Labs, the research division of the French networking giant Alcatel-Lucent, has set another world record for broadband speeds, this time sending 10 Gbps down two pairs of standard copper cable over a distance of 30 metres.
The company also announced a prototype technology called XG-FAST that demonstrates how existing copper access networks can be used to deliver 1Gbps symmetrical broadband services. Alcatel-Lucent says this technology could speed up the delivery of fibre, and enable better speeds between the fibre access points and the premises.
“By pushing broadband technology to its limits, operators can determine how they could deliver gigabit services over their existing networks, ensuring the availability of ultra-broadband access as widely and as economically as possible,” said Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs.
Earlier this year, Alcatel-Lucent and BT set a record for data transfer over fibre, reaching an incredible 1.4Tbps using commercial-grade hardware on an existing network connection.
The power of copper
XG-FAST is an improved version of G.fast, a standard which is still under development at ITU.
G.fast is likely to deliver speeds between 200 Mbps and 500 Mbps over distances of up to 100 meters when it becomes supported by commercial hardware sometime in 2015. Connections can actually be as fast as 1.25Gbps, but only in specific circumstances.
G.fast phase 1 specification uses a frequency range of 106 MHz. In comparison, XG-FAST offers higher speeds over shorter distances, using a frequency range of 350 MHz.
The standard developed by Bell Labss enables a ‘symmetrical’ service, with simultaneous upload a and download speeds up to 1Gbps. The connection will remain stable at distances of up to 70 metres using a single copper line, which in most cases already supports a landline phone.
XG-FAST could solve the issues of ‘the last mile’ in environments where fibre cannot be deployed all the way to the premises. Bell Labs proposes that fibre can be brought to the curbside, wall or basement of a building and the existing copper network used for the final few meters, offering the same levels of performance as Fibre-To-The-Premises (FTTP) connections.
“XG-FAST can help operators accelerate FTTH deployments, taking fibre very close to customers without the major expense and delays associated with entering every home,” commented Federico Guillén, president of Alcatel-Lucent’s Fixed Networks business.
“By making 1 gigabit symmetrical services over copper a real possibility, Bell Labs is offering the telecommunications industry a new way to ensure no customer is left behind when it comes to ultra-broadband access.”
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