Alcatel-Lucent Touts Broadband Boost With VDSL2

French networking giant Alcatel-Lucent is touting the commercial launch of its VDSL Vectoring equipment, which should dramatically improve broadband speeds over copper networks.

The new equipment can apparently help raise broadband speeds over copper networks to 100Mbps and higher, speeds that are currently only possible using a fibre-based network.

“By boosting the capabilities of copper access networks, Alcatel-Lucent makes it possible for service providers to make the best use of existing copper infrastructure,” said the company. “As a result, operators now have the ability to improve their broadband offerings and reach more subscribers much more quickly than ever before.”

VDSL Vectoring

The announcement is significant because of the ongoing debate in the UK over how to bring about a suitable superfast broadband network for the country.

BT of course is gradually installing fibre to some parts (mostly urban areas) of the country, but this leaves entire regions that will effectively be left in the broadband slow lane because they will remain on copper-based networks.

But technologies such as Alcatel-Lucent ‘s VDSL Vectoring equipment could really help matters here.

As the company points out, more than 1.25 billion of the world’s households are currently connected to copper lines, so next-generation DSL technologies should help, providing that the operators actually decide to use and install the equipment.

“With our enhanced broadband portfolio, including VDSL2 Vectoring and recent innovations in next-generation fibre, operators can deliver new services and generate new revenue, quickly,” said Dave Geary, president of the wireline division of Alcatel-Lucent.

“Our objective is to help operators – and nations – ‘get to fast, faster’. For operators this means shortening the time needed to recoup their investments, and making it easier for them to meet various national broadband goals,” he said.

Indeed, Alcatel-Lucent has supplied more than half of the VDSL2 lines in the field today, worldwide. It has previously pioneered approaches to allow operators their copper-based networks with high-capacity VDSL platforms and VDSL2 Bonding deployments.

Fibre Challenge

Alcatel-Lucent has already field trialled VDSL2 Vectoring with other operators including Belgacom (Belgium), Telekom Austria (Austria) and Turk Telekom (Turkey).

“Alcatel-Lucent’s plan to make VDSL2 vectoring commercially available is very timely,” said Rob Gallagher, principal analyst at Informa. “Service providers and governments have stated their intent to boost broadband speeds to consumers and businesses alike, but the challenges associated with comprehensive fibre-to-the-home deployments have been a major obstacle.”

“VDSL2 Vectoring promises to bring speeds of 100Mbps and beyond to advanced copper/fibre hybrid networks and make superfast broadband speeds available to many more people, much faster than many in the industry had thought possible,” he said.

Copper Slow Lane

Of course, in the UK, BT has already committed £2bn for a fibre deployment that will reach two thirds of the UK by 2015. And the government has pledged £530 million for local councils to support the roll-out of superfast broadband to the third of UK homes and businesses that would otherwise miss out.

The government’s ambition is to provide superfast broadband (i.e. 25Mbps) to 90 percent of the UK by 2015.

Whatever happens about the fibre debate in the UK however, it seems that a significant portion of the country will remain trapped on the slow copper-based network, which is why this VDSL2 Vectoring technology announcement is so important.

This new equipment is also noteworthy when you bear in mind that currently BT’s fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) service only offers speeds of up to 40Mbps. But of course fibre is a much better medium as line speeds don’t tend to decrease when distances are involved.

In July BT said that those parts of the country that will not be wired up to fibre would benefit from its extended rollout of ADSL2+.

This promises speeds of up to 20Mbps over the copper network, but of course many people will not see speeds anything like this because of factors such as distance from the telephone exchange, the level of ‘line noise’ etc.

And to make matters worse, this upgrade had been promised by the end of 2011, but now it seems that it will only arrive in Spring 2013 – thirteen months later than the date it originally predicted back in April.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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