The fear for the telephone industry a few years ago was that its copper infrastructure wouldn’t be able to keep pace and a massively disruptive and expensive transition to last-mile fiber would be necessary.
The industry doesn’t have to worry. The telcos and their vendors began finding clever ways of squeezing ever more bits out of copper. The overall evolution is under the umbrella of digital subscriber line (DSL) technology.
DSL capabilities and speeds continue to grow. Much of the most exciting news is outside of North America. At Broadband World Forum 2016 this week in London, Australian carrier nbn said that it and Nokia have conducted lab trials in which XG.FAST, an emerging DSL technology, reached a speed of 8 Gigabits per second (Gbps) over 30 meters of twisted-pair copper. The researchers also sent data at 5 Gbps over 70 meters, according to Light Reading.
Deutsche Telekom AG and BT Group plc have also carried out XG.FAST tests. The story discusses XG.FAST and its predecessor technology, G.fast. The core of the challenge to high-speed DSL is distance. These technologies work at high frequencies. Signals in this region fade quickly. Thus, the technical thrust is to maintain signal integrity long enough for the technology to fulfill its use case, which generally is to serve as a “last mile” into premises.
G.fast is set to proliferate, well, fast. nbn and Ovum this week released a report that suggests almost 30 million subscribers will use G.fast worldwide by 2021. nbn’s press release said that its plan to provide fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) services to about 700,000 subscribers is “an ideal platform for potentially deploying both future G.fast and XG.FAST services.”
Particularly fast uptake is expected in Europe, the release says. Overall, Ovum and nbn expect 330,000 subscribers worldwide to first use G.fast next year. In 2021, 11.5 million G.fast subscribers will be added, the analysts believe.
The vendors are busy, too, which makes sense, because deploying a technology to almost 30 million subscribers is an all-hands-on-deck situation.
Clearly, a lot is going on in the DSL world. One technology seems about to expand dramatically. Another, which perhaps is even more promising, is taking its place in line.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.