In an ideal world we would all access the Internet over fiber optic cables that reach right up to the front door to deliver blisteringly fast transmission speeds. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world and many of us are forced to rely on aging copper network infrastructure. Now, Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs has demonstrated technology that boosts the transmission speeds available over two copper pairs that could see this infrastructure given a new lease of life, satisfying consumer’s need for speed for some time to come.
In a lab test of “DSL Phantom Mode,” Bell Labs achieved downstream transmission speeds of 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) over distances up to 400 meters (1,312 feet) - or 100Mbps at 1km (0.62 miles) – using just two digital subscriber lines (DSL). At its core, DSL Phantom Mode involves the creation of a virtual or “phantom” channel that supplements the two physical wires that are the standard configuration for copper transmission lines.
Bell Labs’ innovation and the source of DSL Phantom Mode’s dramatic increase in transmission capacity lies in its application of analogue phantom mode technology in combination with industry-standard techniques: vectoring that eliminates interference or “crosstalk” between copper wires, and bonding that makes it possible to take individual lines and aggregate them.
“What makes DSL Phantom Mode such an important breakthrough is that it combines cutting edge technology with an attractive business model that will open up entirely new commercial opportunities for service providers, enabling them in particular, to offer the latest broadband IP-based services using existing network infrastructure,” said Gee Rittenhouse, head of Research for Bell Labs.
According to Ovum analyst, Kamalini Ganguly, “Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs’ DSL Phantom Mode lab test adds a whole new dimension to the ongoing ‘100Mbps for all’ debate. The fact that existing copper loops can facilitate 300Mbps at 400 meters reshapes the whole next-generation broadband competitive environment - and will open up a wide range of new business opportunities for ‘traditional’ DSL players. This announcement shows that Alcatel-Lucent is seriously looking at all possible innovations to help its customers speed up the deployment of next-generation access networks, through a smart mix of advanced copper and fiber technologies.”
The company says it is conducting further research to “refine deployment models and determine a specific set of customer premises equipment (CPE) - models compatible with the DSL Phantom Mode technology.”
With many countries around the world struggling to find the cash to update aging infrastructure the ability to boost their performance using Alcatel-Lucent's technology without a wholesale replacement is sure to appeal.