Year in Review 2012: VDSL2 and vectoring
The news: Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) may be the best end-all solution for the last mile network, but the biggest challenge to deploying an all-fiber last mile network is time-to-market for higher speed broadband services.
It seems ironic that at a time when Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and municipal providers like the city of Chattanooga are offering 1 Gbps over fiber, every year FierceTelecom still cites copper as a key technology trend. Putting aside FTTH for a moment, 2012 was the year when VDSL2 and its new partner, vectoring--two technologies that can enhance the rate and reach for broadband--came into greater prominence for traditional telcos.
VDSL2 is deployed on short loops via a Fiber-to-the-Curb (FTTC) scenario where a telco will run fiber to a remote terminal cabinet or from a DSLAM device inside a building that uses the remaining copper pairs to deliver services to each home or business. While speeds will vary, VDSL2 can deliver asymmetric and symmetric aggregate data rates up to 200 Mbps downstream and upstream on twisted copper pairs.
Many service providers deploying VDSL2 are now augmenting those deployments with both bonding and vectoring. Bonding can be used to either combine multiple wire pairs to increase capacity or extend the copper network's reach.
Vectoring focuses on mitigating crosstalk issues that can affect large-scale deployments of DSL lines delivering 15 Mbps and above speeds. With the advent of Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM) Level 3, a combination of DSM with vectored DSL, proponents claim the technology can not only help service providers enhance their respective DSL speeds, but also provide information on how to isolate faults on the copper plant.
"VDSL2 Vectoring alone, or in combination with VDSL2 bonding, provides operators with the opportunity to offer FTTH-like speeds over copper lines," wrote Teresa Mastrangelo, principal analyst for Broadband Trends. "This provides operators with a solution that can address the immediate time-to-market, competitive and regulatory challenges; while operators prepare their networks for the eventual migration to FTTH."
In their most recent report on VDSL2 and vectoring, Broadband Trends forecast that 27 percent of all cumulative VDSL2 ports will be vectored by the year 2017. Although EMEA represents the largest opportunity, North America has the highest penetration of VDSL2 vectoring at 42 percent of total VDSL ports.
From a vendor perspective, the clear leader in the VDSL2 vectoring race is Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU). In recent months, a number of EMEA-based telcos including Belgacom, TDC Denmark, Telekom Austria and Türk Telekom have employed Alcatel-Lucent in either trials or deployments of VDSL2 with vectoring.
Looking forward to 2013, one of the most highly anticipated deployments of VDSL2 and vectoring will take place at Deutsche Telekom (DTE.DE), which announced earlier this month that it would spend €6 billion ($7.9 billion) to build out a FTTC network to expand download speeds on its copper lines from 50 to 100 Mbps. Later, it submitted an application to Germany's Federal Network Agency (FNA) to get permission to use vectoring technology as it gets ready to offer VDSL2 services to consumers and businesses.
Why it matters: For traditional telcos that are trying to maintain bottom-line costs yet want to deliver higher speed services to stay on a competitive footing with cable, the combination of VDSL2 and vectoring can provide enhanced bandwidth and services like IPTV today while paving a path to an all fiber-based broadband for tomorrow.
- Year in Review 2012: VDSL2 and vectoring