updated 01:54 pm EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Development simplifies home, office installations
The research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, Bell Labs, has set a new broadband speed record of 10Gbps using traditional copper telephone lines and a prototype technology that demonstrates how existing copper access networks can be used to deliver slower-speed 1Gbps symmetrical ultra-broadband access services across extant wiring, but only for short distances. The breakthrough uses a prototype technology called XG-FAST -- an extension of G.fast technology, a new wired broadband standard currently being finalized for commercial release in 2015.
XG-FAST uses an increased frequency range up to 500 MHz to achieve higher speeds but over shorter distances than the G.fast protocol, which transmits at 106MHz with speeds up to 500Mbps over 100m (330 feet). Bell Labs achieved 1Gbps symmetrical over 70m (231 feet) on a single copper pair. Ten times the speed was achieved over a distance of 30m (99 feet) by using two pairs of lines. Both tests used standard copper cable provided by an unnamed European operator.
The breakthrough isn't going to revolutionize broadband delivery -- it is a short-range delivery of high-speed data. What it may simplify is "last mile" delivery to a group of homes from a central hub, or delivery of signal from the street. A fiber connection could theoretically be brought to a cluster of homes or an apartment building, with the existing copper carrying the data the rest of the way, eliminating the need to run fiber through an entire network all the way to a home.