Alcatel-Lucent, Telekom Austria wring 1 Gbps from existing copper

Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Telekom Austria Group subsidiary A1 claim to have broken the 1 Gbps broadband speed barrier using technology developed by Bell Labs over an existing copper telecommunications network.

If proven out in the real world, the ultra-high-speed capabilities would boost the prospects of building competitive triple play high-speed data, IPTV and voice services over existing copper-based telecom facilities.

According to an ALU press release, the laboratory trial used a new transmission technology and a "single, good quality cable" to achieve a maximum speed of 1.1 Gbps over 70 meters and 800 Mbps over 100 meters. The two companies also managed to deliver 500 Mbps over 100 meters on a single line of older unshielded cable.

The trial enabled vectoring to overcome impairments such as crosstalk and bring the speeds from an impaired 60 Mbps over 100 meters to 500 Mbps over the same distance.

"This is a huge improvement over widely deployed DSL networks, which typically offer speeds of 5-30 Mbps or VDSL2 vectoring networks supporting up to 100 Mbps," the press release stated. "Fiber-to-the-home services typically range from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps."

While the technology itself, which ALU called a "natural evolution of VDSL2," seems capable, the timeline when it will be available to help the myriad of international providers with copper infrastructure, is less encouraging. Even optimistic predictions are that won't be commercially available for several years.

All things considered, though, the results should encourage copper-based service providers looking to advance into the competitive ultra-high-speed broadband space without installing fiber, said Hans Pichler, Telekom Austria Group's CTO in the press release, who said that "upgrading our existing copper infrastructure (will) give our customers the best possible broadband service."

Federico Guillen, leader of business line fixed access at Alcatel-Lucent was also both complimentary and cautious.

"While this is only a trial, the impressive results show the enormous potential of for service providers around the world," he said in the press release.

The trial indicates that Alcatel-Lucent is indeed pursuing the three-year broadband-heavy R&D turnaround called "The Shift Plan" that its new CEO Michel Combes announced in June. A key element of that plan is greater investment in Bell Labs.

- Alcatel-Lucent issued this press release

Editor's Corner: Speed thrills, but IPTV growth stymied by lack of broadband availability

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