The next evolution of broadband – maybe we’ll call it broadband 2.0 – involves speeds well north of the current U.S. average of 1.9 Mbps. Cable companies like to tout , or wideband, enables them to push cable modem service to 100 Mbps. Telcos point to FTTH as their broadband 2.0 ace in the hole, providing them the capability to match and surpass wideband speeds. DSL tends to get little broadband 2.0 respect, despite the fact that it currently is the workhorse for telco powered broadband, and will be for significant time to come. As the current debate highlights, getting broadband 2.0 everywhere will cost many multiples more than the $7.2 billion in the current plan. And despite all of the 100 Mbps hype, average broadband speeds will not approach even half that for many years to come.

So what’s the future of DSL? According to Ericsson, the Swedish based telecom equipment provider, is achievable – but with some significant caveats. Ericsson announced they achieved 500 Mbps in a lab using a ‘vectorized’ VDSL2 circuit. In lay terms, vectorized means crosstalk cancellation. The 500 Mbps milestone was achieved by bonding six copper pairs. Typical VDSL distance limitations also still apply. “With this technology, operators can enhance fiber access deployments with copper access in the last mile and thereby maximize the reuse of existing infrastructure,” says Ericsson in a press release.

The 500 Mbps threshold makes for a great discussion, but based on its limitations, we suspect it will have limited impact in the broadband 2.0 debate, but for a few circumstances. After all, how many operators have that many ‘spare pairs’ lying around. AT&T may very well be interested though – their architecture for requires copper to the home. Perhaps some variant of this new Ericsson technology, with lesser requirements, will emerge and provide FTTN carriers with more options. Ericsson also is targeting mobile backhaul as a potential suitor for this solution. It’s obviously very early to draw firm conclusions about the possibilities of 500 Mbps over DSL. It does demonstrate that research and development continues for DSL. All things considered – that’s a good thing. Its workhorse status is in no immediate danger of changing.

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9 thoughts on “500 Mbps Over DSL?

  1. I still believe FTTH is the answer. Telcos should be finding ways to get FTTH built – its the only long term answer. Faster DSL is nice, but ultimately, FTTH is the long term answer.

  2. while i agree with Bill that all things considered ftth is the best move, its unrealistic to think every telco can do a ftth overbuild – especially bigger ones. there’s just not enough capital – public, private, or both – to pay for it. like the story suggests, dsl will be around for a long time. those that offer it will need to see continued innovations like this.

  3. Seems like a pipe dream to me. Six pairs and limited distance – how many scenarios are there where this make sense? Seems fairly limited.

  4. while this will not typically help the CLEC model reselling Bell loops, a repeater concept in concert with this new technology will extend the reach on existing pairs and is a concept already deployed on various xDSL protocols today. To be effective, the company would need to own the outside plant as most interconnect agreements do not provide this type of access to the Bell network infrastructure.

  5. This is uninformed flackery. Copper is yesterday’s and now obsolete telecommunications infrastructure. Who’s going to make the investment to upgrade copper to six bonded pairs? Consider that AT&T has twice delayed pair bonding rollouts to support its U-Verse offering and will likely ultimately abandon U-Verse next year as part of a general retreat from residential wireline.

  6. Networks were designed and built with not more than two pairs per subscriber. In rescent construction six pair drops have been utilized but that is only the drop. Six pairs were not reserved all the way back to the node. It means that there are not that many pairs available to bond to achieve the stated bandwidth.
    Utilizing copper in the last mile is just a stop gap measure allowing for the use of the existing infrastructure. Long term designs and construction policies should not be based on such a narrow vision.
    That type of application maybe good for an apartment complex or business but not for general deployment to meet long term bandwidth goals.

  7. This multi-pair technology is fine for DSLAM backhaul and similar applications. Perhaps two pair bonding will work for some footprints where the carrier chose to put in at least 2 copper pairs to every home. But, the broadband rates seem to be accelerating so fast that this type of technology for broadband to the home may be obsolete almost before it can be deployed. Of course, there will always be certain situations where it will make sense. The future is never the domain of a single technology.

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