Expanding copper's capabilities

An advocate of Fiber to the X, including Fiber to the Home (FTTH) mainly in Greenfield markets, TDS Telecom's VDSL2 drive reflects the ongoing drive by the majority of traditional service providers to get more out of their existing copper network to deliver advanced services to customers.

 "From an overall market perspective, it's too early to tell, but from an overall technology perspective, I think we've been very pleased with the VDSL2 technology to date"

Although Paker said the rates and reach TDS is achieving on VDSL2 in the initial markets are working as expected, it's premature to tell how effective it has been in the initial seven market deployment.

"From an overall market perspective, it's too early to tell, but from an overall technology perspective, I think we've been very pleased with the VDSL2 technology to date," he said. "It has been able to deliver the speeds we were expecting at the loop lengths we were expecting."

Given the diversity of the wireline markets TDS Telecom serves, the typical loop lengths that ranges from 1,000-60,000 feet. Of course, the reality is that VDSL2 is best served on shorter loop lengths.

Being realistic about what it can deliver to customers, TDS is mainly focusing on delivering VDSL2 services to customers that are within the 4,000 feet range.

VDSL2 may be the next stage in traditional service providers like TDS trying to squeeze what they can out of existing copper, there continue to be other methods to augment the rates and reach copper plant can deliver to consumers and businesses even further.

TDS Telecom VDSL2 FTTC network

One method that first on the list of consideration of course is copper bonding, a method that involves bonding multiple copper pairs to increase available capacity, or extend the copper network's reach.

Similar to AT&T and Qwest--both of which are extending the life of their respective copper networks to deliver Fiber to the Node-type services with VDSL2 and copper bonding--TDS is also looking at bonding.

However compelling bonding is in increasing rates and reach of VDSL, Paker has some operational concerns with bonding.   

"Our issue with bonding is records and order provisioning related--so not related to technology per se but related to our internal integration of that technology," Paker said.

And what about some of the emerging exotic methods such as DSM, vectoring and phantom that been touted by upstart vendors (ASSIA and Actelis) and established vendors (Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks)?

At this point in the game, TDS is evaluating these technologies. Similar to their deployment of VDSL2, Paker said the real proof won't be seen until the technologies are actually deployed in real-world network environments.   

"Our expectation, though, is that there is still much that needs to be worked out in actual deployment of these more exotic techniques," Paker said. "There is a long history of DSL technology being over-hyped based on theory and/or lab testing results only to find critically important issues in the field environment. So we will remain somewhat skeptical until we can prove them in a field environment."

Expanding copper's capabilities
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