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Who needs fiber when copper will do?

Bell Labs manages to push 10 Gbps over copper with a new transmission protocol.


Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs has broken a broadband speed record, pushing 10Gbps down a regular copper telephone wire using a new DSL standard called XG-Fast.

XG-Fast uses a higher frequency in the 500 MHz range which allows for the higher data transmission speeds. In contrast, G.Fast, the upcoming high-speed protocol that will power AT&T’s 1Gbps DSL network in 2015, uses the 106 MHz frequency range to transmit data in the 1Gbps range.

“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,” said Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs, in a statement. “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.”

But XG-Fast has a caveat: because of the high frequency (remember high school physics) more power is needed to transmit further distances. There isn’t an infinite amount of power available, as too much power would likely interfere with other signals. Because of this limitation the 10Gbps speeds can only be achieved over 30 meters.

” XG-Fast uses an increased frequency range up to 500MHz to achieve higher speeds but over shorter distances,” Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Labs’ parent company, said in a press release. “Bell Labs achieved 1Gbps symmetrical over 70 meters on a single copper pair. 10Gbps was achieved over a distance of 30 meters by using two pairs of lines (a technique known as ‘bonding’). Both tests used standard copper cable provided by a European operator.”

Bell Labs didn’t say when the prototype technology would be on the market for commercial use, but in all likelihood it won’t be available before the end of the decade considering the time regulatory approval and implementation will take. In the end, it may be more economical to retrofit people’s houses with fiber; in Taipei many seemingly ancient buildings are already wired with fiber to the premises.

Source: Bell Labs


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