While those of us who want the fastest possible download speeds closely monitor, and then grab, the upgraded fiber and cable deployments, salivating at speeds of 100 Mbps and above, it’s easy to forget. that many people still cannot get cable and rely on modest twisted pair DSL. DSL download speeds at common ISPs range from 14 to 43 Mbps, according to Ookla’s Speedtest.net. Crosstalk between lines restricted bandwidth, on the one hand.
However, things could be about to change, especially in Europe.
G.fast is a fiber-to-the-node DSL (FTTN) technology that has achieved accelerated speeds of 170 Mbps over a quarter mile in the lab and 1 Gbps over 100 meters less usable in the same environment. It works best over short distances.
The FTTN is a fiber that ends in a street cabinet somewhere in the neighborhood, with the final, possibly long, stretch to the premises on the copper.
G.fast tests were performed on 16 active pairs and are aimed at finding ways to speed up service for those using existing DSL and for mobile backhaul.
Copper is here to stay
Why invest in DSL, you will tell me? The fiber is surely better.
Some telecom operators have not given up on copper and are trying to increase the speeds of their existing infrastructure. G.fast works and could provide an acceptable alternative when it leaves the lab.
One of the consortium members, the British operator BT, has “publicly committed” to upgrade its DSL network to G.fast. He intends to launch pilot programs in two UK cities this summer, according to Brian Santo, who has been write on G.fast in the wireless week.
Santo explains that several companies are involved in the overall development of the technology, including BT, AT&T and France Telecom, now Orange. Huawei is develop products of the G.fast system.
Amusingly, it should be noted that the non-system vendors involved in the project were all government-run postal, telegraph, and telephone (PTT) monopolies – disowned during Thatcherism and Reaganomics.
Those who are old enough will remember that state monopolies have always had a musty whiff of underinvestment around them. Perhaps that is one reason why we are seeing, in this case, the overhaul of the now aging DSL technology rather than an overwhelming load with fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or fiber-optic, obviously. superior but more expensive. -at the office (FTTD)?
Clearly, things are not changing in some places.
Speed gains in G.fast are achieved through distribution point units (DPUs) which transmit the signal to the end user. Santo says the retail version will run over a TCP wire, instead of the 16 pairs used in the tests. According to Santo, two TCP wires could also be connected.
Interestingly, G.fast is “reverse feed” which means the customer supplies the electricity, not the grid. Copper-based telephone networks have traditionally been supplied by the telephone company at the switch level. FTTH, like Verizon’s FIOS in the US, needs electricity in the home to function.
The most cynical will say that it is also to save money.
And why bother with copper, you will tell me? As a telco, why not just run the cable or fiber to the home or office?
Well the answer is it’s cheaper. The way telecom operators see it, they’ve already invested in copper, albeit a few years ago, but aren’t about to tear it up and start over with fiber. Especially the complicated last mile through expensive and slow to build NIMBY-ism minefields.
And who are we to discuss? Many telecommunications companies were conceived as altruistic organizations with a socialist tendency. They were started by governments to provide a public service many years ago during the telegraph era. Being told what to do by the customer, historically, has never been in their culture. And if you’ve ever dealt with telecom and cable customer service even today, you’ll know what I mean.
That’s why we should be excited about the prospect of DSL ramping up. We may be eagerly awaiting fiber to the office, but chances are good that DSL will be on your block for the foreseeable future in some places.
Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.