Just when you think copper has seen its last legs in the service provider network something else comes along to dispute that theory, and Huawei's Giga DSL prototype is representative the twisted pair has more bandwidth to offer.
Leveraging time division duplexing (TDD), a method used in next-gen wireless technologies like WiMAX, Huawei claims that its Giga DSL system can deliver upstream and downstream rate of 1 Gbps over a single twisted pair of copper wire.
Obviously, the new technology will be of most interest to traditional domestic service providers like AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), Frontier (NYSE: FTR) and Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN) that have stuck with a hybrid fiber/copper Fiber to the Node (FTTN) or a Fiber to the Business (FTTB) configuration.
Given the physical limitations of copper, Giga DSL is not without its limitations as it's designed to serve customers at distances of 100 and 200 meters. Like other emerging DSL technologies such as vectoring, Huawei's Giga DSL prototype can deliver a total upstream and downstream rate of one Gbps within 100 meters, and over 500 Mbps for customers located within 200 meters of the remote terminal (RT) cabinet.
Huawei's Giga DSL follows its SuperMIMO prototype DSL technology that uses four twisted copper pairs to deliver a 700 Mbps downstream rate over 400 meters.
Service providers that are interested in Huawei's technology will at least take some comfort in knowing that standards groups like the ITU-T are also looking at developing new standards to deliver high speed at short distances. With G.fast project, the ITU-T is working on a standard to deliver 500 Mbps access rates per twisted pair within 100 meters.
Of course, Huawei is not alone in its desire to wring more out of the copper line. Vendor rival Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) has been driving hard with its own VDSL2 vectoring solution, while software vendor ASSIA has continued to win customers for its own respective vectoring and Dynamic Spectrum Management solutions that are also aimed at increasing speeds delivered over copper.
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