Go, go physics! Huawei tests gigabit DSL

Don't expect to ditch that copper yet.

Copper, it just won’t die. Chinese equipment vendor Huawei has shown it can take copper DSL and push it to gigabit speeds over short distances, the company said on Wednesday. Om wrote about efforts to do this all the way back in 2006, and we have covered several advances in DSL speeds since, from 100 Mbps to 300 Mbps to Wednesday’s news.

Huawei’s prototype gear uses time division duplexing to achieve a total upstream and downstream rate of a gigabit over a single twisted pair. This means new cable won’t be required to wire the home, reducing operator time and expense. Huawei says its Giga DSL gear only transmits those speeds for 100 meters, so it clearly envisions this being used for the last few feet, with fiber being laid to the curb or to the building. Here’s what Huawei said in its release:

By using low-power spectral density in-signal transmission, Huawei’s Giga DSL prototype reduces radiation interference and power consumption, and provides a total upstream and downstream rate of one Gb/s within 100 meters, and 500 Mb/s-plus within 200 meters — making it a cost-effective option for telecom operators building ultra-broadband access networks.

Huawei also recently announced the successful development of the world’s first node level vectoring (NLV) prototype. Huawei’s vectoring product provides 100 Mbps access over a single twisted pair in FTTC/FTTB, and has been tested and commercially trialed with many leading telecom operators. This, along with the company’s latest prototype, Giga DSL, signifies that DSL technology still has great potential to meet the requirements of broadband users for ultra-high-speed access in the future.

This type of breakthrough could help cost-conscious operators such as AT&T (s t) gradually extend their fiber networks closer to the edge without doing an utter rip and replace, as Verizon did with its FiOS expansion. It also means copper will still be with us for a while. Huawei access products are now providing service to more than a third of the world’s broadband users.