Cincinnati Bell conducts 400 Mbps over copper trial, sees potential for small cell backhaul services

Cincinnati Bell has completed a trial that delivered residential broadband speeds of up to 400 Mbps over existing copper as a method to complement its aggressive fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) Fioptics rollout.

Leveraging Genesis Technical Solutions' DSL Rings technology, the trial was conducted on behalf of the newly formed Residential Access Carrier Consortium (RACC). RACC is a consortium of operators from North America, Europe and Latin America which aims to address the requirement for improved broadband in suburban, semi-rural and rural areas using Genesis solutions.

Cincinnati Bell used the DSL Rings three-part solution which consists of a convergence node (CN) inside its network; a home gateway (HGW) at each home; and Exchange Gateway Software, which monitors all of the rings deployed across the network, and is installed at the Central Office (CO).

Besides demonstrating that homes in the trial area could get up to 400 Mbps, Cincinnati Bell also tested and validated various services, including rate vs. reach, multicast, dynamic bandwidth allocation, and individual data burst transmissions.

Over Cincinnati Bell's existing copper network backhaul infrastructure, network bandwidth was measured across a maximum of 12 pairs from the DSLAM (digital subscriber line access multiplexer) to the CN, at distances ranging from 1000-3000 feet, set at 500 feet increments.

Other trials tested distribution around the ring to 12 home gateways. These local access routes were connected with standard copper cables, as used by Cincinnati Bell in their network. Network reach between the CN and the HGWs was initially from 160 to 500 feet.

The trial tested two elements: network backhaul for the last mile network traffic and speeds delivered to the home. Cincinnati Bell was able to achieve up to 1 Gbps of aggregate backhaul network capacity. On the access porition of the network, the telco was able to deliver up to 400 Mbps of bandwidth to each home that was served in the pilot deployment. 

Tom Simpson, CTO of Cincinnati Bell, said in a release that this test gives the provider confidence that it can address other parts of its footprint with higher speeds over copper that it has not addressed with fiber-based broadband yet.

"This trial has shown, and proven, the capability to bring more than enough bandwidth to customers served by even the most mature parts of our network," Simpson said.

Finding ways to leverage its existing copper network to deliver higher speeds makes sense for Cincinnati Bell.

While it has continued to be aggressive in rolling out FTTP, the service provider told investors during its first quarter earnings that will be nearing the end of its FTTP build near the end of 2017. By that time, the service provider expects total Fioptics penetration to be between 60-70 percent.

By leveraging technologies provided by Genesis and others like vectoring and G.fast, Cincinnati Bell could address other neighborhoods where it can't prove out an initial business case for FTTP. At the same time, the telco would be able to satisfy users' hunger for higher speed services that may have been only available through the local cable provider Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR).

But residential broadband service is only part of what the technology could enable. The trial results illustrated that bandwidth of up to 600 Mbps is available to support additional services, such as small cell backhaul.

Similar to its residential fiber build, Cincinnati Bell has been quite aggressive in building out fiber to support small cell deployments. Earlier this year, the service provider secured a $30 million, multi-year small cell agreement with a Tier 1 wireless operator.

However, being able to complement its fiber-based builds by supporting small cell backhaul over copper could give the telco another weapon to satisfy perhaps lower speed backhaul needs where fiber isn't feasible to install.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
Cincinnati Bell reaches 40% Fioptics penetration in mature markets, on track to slow build in 2017
Cincinnati Bell offsets cable threat to SMB market with hosted voice solution
Cincinnati Bell to offer Wi-Fi to Newport, Ky., in public-private business partnership
Cincinnati Bell seeks FCC permission to shut down telegraph services
Cincinnati Bell's 'fiber depth is clear' with Fioptics footprint 80% FTTH enabled, analyst says

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