A new broadband speed world record has been set using traditional copper telephone wires.
Bell Labs, the research and development arm of global telecoms giants Alcatel-Lucent, set a new speed of 10 gigabits-per-second (gbps) using a prototype technology it calls XG-FAST. The prototype also demonstrated how existing copper access networks can be used to deliver 1Gbps symmetrical ultra-broadband access services.
Achieving 1 Gbps ‘symmetrical’ services where bandwidth can be split to provide simultaneous upload and download speeds of 1 Gbps is a major breakthrough for copper broadband, as it will potentially enable operators to provide internet connection speeds that are comparable with fibre optic services.
This will have a major business benefit in locations where it is not physically, economically or aesthetically viable to lay new fibre cables all the way into residences, as it could massively extend the life of existing copper line networks. Instead, fibre can be brought to the curbside, wall or
basement of a building and the existing copper network used for the final few metres, significantly reducing costs.
XG-FAST is the successor to the G.fast technology which is currently being ratified by the International Telecommunication Union.
When this new broadband standard becomes available in 2015, G.fast will use a frequency range for data transmission of 106 MHz, giving broadband speeds up to 500 Mbps over a distance of 100 metres.
In contrast, XG-FAST uses an increased frequency range up to 500 MHz to achieve higher speeds but over shorter distances.
Bell Labs achieved 1 Gbps symmetrical over 70 metres, or 230 feet, on a single copper pair. Ten Gbps was achieved over a distance of 30 metres, or 100 feet, by using two pairs of lines in a technique known as bonding. Both tests used standard copper cable provided by a European operator.
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 10 Gbps 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.”
Commenting on the achievement, President of Alcatel-Lucenta’s Fixed Networks business said: “The Bell Labs speed record is an amazing achievement, but crucially in addition they have identified a new benchmark for real-world applications for ultra-broadband fixed access. 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.”
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.