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1Gbps symmetrical broadband services possible through copper

Two American broadband providers have announced they will be introducing symmetrical 1Gbps FTTH broadband services later this year. This week Bell Labs have demonstrated that this capacity can also be achieved using FTTdp type solutions - setting a new record of 10Gbps using traditional copper telephone lines.

Both Verizon and AT&T have confirmed that they will be upgrading network capacity over the coming months with Verizon transitioning customers that use verizons FiOS (FTTH) solution to symmetrical services, where upload speeds are equal to download speeds, for free throughout the coming months.

‘Faster upload speeds means better sharing experiences,’ said Mike Ritter, Verizon’s chief marketing officer for consumer and mass business. ‘All internet sharing – whether videos, large photo files or gaming – starts with uploading. FiOS all-fibre-optic technology offers a unique opportunity to enhance our customers’ internet experience on a mass scale by increasing our upload speeds to equal to our industry-leading download speeds. As the Internet of Things becomes a reality, equal download and upload speeds will become essential.’

AT&T is deploying additional fibre and electronics to its existing network in Charlotte, North Carolina – although this is a limited rollout further work will begin from 2014 to deploy these services to wider areas. 

‘We are very pleased AT&T will be deploying its ultra-high speed fibre network here in Charlotte,’ said Mayor Dan Clodfelter.  ‘AT&T’s networks helped us become a hub for international business and banking. This new network will move us to the next level in building a vibrant, world-class, and globally-connected city. We look forward to working with AT&T as they bring this exciting new service to our community.’

The technology market research firm IDC  reported in a study from Sep 2013 that more than 20 per cent of US broadband households are ‘power users’ that are frequently online, uploading nearly as much content as they download. IDC estimates that the population of power user households will experience 60 per cent growth by 2017 and will continue to increase nationwide in the future.

Matt Davis, program director of consumer multiplay and broadband services research for IDC said: ‘IDC believes that both the upload and download speed demands of today’s Power User will inevitably become the norm in the coming years. Verizon’s decision to give every FiOS Internet customer upload speeds that mirror its industry-leading download speeds is a step forward for U.S. digital consumers.’

Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, set a new broadband speed record of 10 gigabits-per-second using traditional copper telephone lines. As previously reported on Fibre Systems this demonstrates that existing copper access networks can be used to deliver 1Gbps symmetrical services.

Existing copper networks can be used in FTTdp style solutions equal to the highest capacity services offered by the broadband providers.

A knock-on effect of this is an increased timescale for investment in the fibre infrastructure because service providers do not need to have fibre installed along ‘the last mile’ of the fibre network – often the most time consuming and expensive per household connected.

Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs said: ‘Our constant aim is to push the limits of what is possible to “invent the future”, with breakthroughs that are 10 times better than are possible today. Our demonstration of 10Gbps over copper is a prime example: 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.’

The Bell Labs tests used a prototype technology called XG-FAST. This is an extension of G.fast technology, a new broadband standard currently being finalised by the ITU. G.fast can deliver up to 500Mbps over a distance of 100 meters. In contrast, XG-FAST uses an increased frequency range up to 500MHz to achieve higher speeds but over shorter distances.

Bell Labs achieved 1Gbps symmetrical over 70 meters on a single copper pair. 10 Gbps was achieved over a distance of 30 meters by using two bonded copper pairs.

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