Adtran lays groundwork for superfast broadband over copper

The first commercial networks are expected next year

US telecom equipment vendor Adtran has developed a technology that will make it easier for operators to roll out broadband speeds close to 500Mbps over copper lines.

The conventional wisdom is that copper is dying out and fiber is ascending. However, the cost of rolling out fiber is still too high for many operators, which instead want to upgrade their existing copper networks (and in some cases fiber simply can't be installed). So there is still a need for technologies that can make use of copper networks and complement fiber.

Adtran has developed what is calls FDV (Frequency Division Vectoring), which enhances the capabilities of two of these technologies -- VDSL2 with vectoring and G.fast -- by enabling them to better coexist over a single subscriber line, the company said.

VDSL2 with vectoring, which improves speeds by reducing noise and can deliver up to 150Mbps, is currently being rolled out by operators, while G.fast, which is capable of 500Mbps, is still under development.

The higher speeds are needed for applications such as 4K video streaming, IPTV, cloud-based storage and communication via HD video.

FDV will make it easier for operators to roll out G.fast once it's ready and expand where it can be used, according to Adtran.

The first G.fast deployments will happen in the middle of 2015, a spokeswoman for Adtran said via email. The underlying standard is expected to be adopted by the end of the year. Once that happens, chip makers and equipment makers like Adtran can develop products for commercial deployments, she said.

The technology increases the bandwidth by using more spectrum. G.fast will use 106MHz of spectrum, which compares to the 17MHz or 30MHz used by VDSL2.

The development of G.fast is currently at a point where vendors are trying to show they are the best alternative for future upgrades. Recently, rival Alcatel-Lucent demonstrated a prototype technology called XG-Fast, which is capable of 1Gbps for upload and download traffic, as well as 10Gbps in download speeds when using two copper pairs, it said.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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