broadbandInnovative ‘waveguide’ technology developed by broadband vendor ASSIA holds out prospects of multi-gigabit network data transport using existing telco twisted pair copper wiring.

Using waveguide modes of existing copper network infrastructure enables data to be transported at 100 Gbps over 300 meters and 10 Gbps over distances of 500 meters, ASSIA claims.

Terabit DSL
“Fiber-like speeds of 10-1000’s of gigabits/second (Gbps) are possible using the previously unexploited waveguide modes of current copper infrastructure,” Dr. John Cioffi, Stanford University Emeritus Professor and ASSIA chairman and CEO stated. Based in Redwood Shores, Calif., ASSIA develops and markets management and optimization software for broadband and Wi-Fi networks.

Making use of DSL waveguide modes paves the way to make use of frequencies above 100 GHz and results in dramatically higher data transport speed, according to Cioffi. 5G wireless, for instance, plans to utilize 28 GHz and 39 GHz. Commercial microwave equipment can operate using 70 and 90 GHz.

Early Terabit DSL designs suggest link latency of 50-100 microseconds is achievable, which would should meet stringent 5G latency specifications of 1 ms or less, ASSIA points out in a press release. Cioffi will present ASSIA’s “Terabit DSL” methodology in a keynote address at the G.fast Summit in Paris on May 10th.

G.fast is designed to transport data over short distances via copper loops. Market research published last October forecast G.fast would reach nearly 30 million homes and businesses around the world by 2021.

The fastest G.fast data transport rate achieved to date is 200 MHz. Comparable wireless broadband methods use 25 times as much spectrum, ASSIA points out. “The challenge was to develop practical ways to use higher frequencies over wires.  Working with my ASSIA colleagues Dr. Chan Soo Hwang, Dr. Ken Kerpez, and Dr. Ioannis Kanellakopoulos, we found a solution,” Cioffi elaborated.

Terabit DSL Applications
ASSIA doesn’t anticipate Terabit DSL rates being experienced in the home anytime soon. Rather it will be most valuable, and applied first, in data centers owned by telcos, as well as other data center operators, such as Google and Microsoft.

Cioffi and ASSIA also see large-scale opportunities developing for Terabit DSL to be used to support IoT applications and autonomous vehicle networking. Added to that is a prospective use to enhance 5G small cells and cable industry DOCSIS 3.1 network nodes.

“Hundreds of thousands of 5G small cells and DOCSIS 3.1 cable nodes will require 5-20 gigabit backhaul,” Cioffi said.  “Most 5G cells will connect to a Cloud RAN controller that can use 100 gigabits/s to support dozens of cells.”

If proven in the field, Terabit DSL could yield massive savings for telcos, as well as their customers, according to ASSIA. “AT&T and other telcos around the world are also deploying G.fast to apartments. G.fast speeds of 300 megabits to a gigabit can be supplied to every apartment.  This differs from cable, which has shared connections that require multi-gigabit backhaul,” Cioffi said.

“Fiber is and always will be expensive to deploy. There are a billion phone lines around the world which will now be able to deliver fiber-like speeds over existing copper infrastructure.  Using the existing wires in place can dramatically reduce the cost of 5G networks.”

Cioffi and ASSIA anticipate another few years of diligent work lies ahead across the industry in order to refine and further develop Terabit DSL. “LTE and now 5G wireless have proven major advances can evolve from concept to deployment in five to seven years. Data centers at Google and Facebook can leverage such new technologies in only a few years,” he stated.

Image courtesy of flickr user Sean MacEntee.