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by Mike Zazaian October 10, 2006 - 7:37pm, 20 Comments

Copper Wire Pushes 4 Times the Bandwidth of Fiber Optics

A new consortium of hardware vendors is experimenting with new methods to push as much as 10 gigabytes per second through existing copper wire infrastructures, making Fiber-to-the-Home all but obsolete.

By using a technique called Dynamic Spectrum Management, internet providers would be able to achieve DSL bandwidth speeds as high as 10Gpbs through copper wires. At such immense speeds, the already-laid copper wires could achieve speeds up to four times faster than the 2.5Gbps throughput at which standard fiber-optic cables top out.

Current bottlenecks on DSL connections are caused by static spectrum management, a technology that prevents severe service degradation in wires that may be used by multiple services. It essentially ensures that nobody gets terrible service, also hinders service symmetry and greatly lowers the highest possible speeds in copper wire solutions. DSM improves upon the current SSM implementation, allowing each DSL connection to be regulated in real time based on the immediate data needs of each customer. By just changing the way data is transferred through copper wires, individual users could achieve download rates as fast as 100 megabytes per second, more than twice as fast as Verizon plans to offer with its Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) FiOS network.

The main obstacle for the advancement of DSL technology is the interference generated from different DSL lines that share the same telephone cable binder, said Professor John Cioffi, Professor of Engineering at Stanford University. DSM is a promising technology for the future evolution of broadband access networks using existing copper infrastructure.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time for Verizon, who has already committed over $18 billion to the expansion of the aforementioned FiOS network. The primary costs of such FTTH networks lie not with the actual implementation, which at $933 per home costs only slightly more than an $800 per-home cable installation. Instead, Verizon’s core costs come from the need to pass fiber optic cables by every single house that it plans to eventually connect with, even if those houses choose to opt out of service in the interim. If only 10 percent of customers then choose to adopt the service, Verizon’s costs ring up at around $10,000 per home.

And while such FTTH networks are already prevalent in Japan and South Korea, the increased bandwidth of DSM solutions would eliminate the primary costs that Verizon faces as it plans to extend its FiOS network to 18 million homes by 2010. And while DSM is still in development, its implementation would allow for a less costly Fiber-to-the-Curb solution, in which service providers could avoid the enormous costs of passing fiber by every house in a given network.

Still, DSM is in its infancy, and doesn’t yet mean the downfall of Verizon’s FiOS or Fiber-to-the-Home. If DSM gets off the ground any time soon however, Verizon may have a whole lot of ’splainin’ to do to its investors about the $18 billion hole in its pocket

[via ars technica]

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