Vectoring could allow Deutsche Telekom to boost copper broadband speeds to 100M bps

The technology improves performance by removing interference

German network operator Deutsche Telekom is planning to upgrade its copper broadband network using a technology called vectoring, which will result in speeds of up to 100M bps.

To help keep DSL and copper networks relevant, vendors are working on a number of technologies to increase the broadband speeds that can be delivered over old telephone lines.

One of these technologies is vectoring, which Deutsche Telekom wants to implement in its German network, allowing it to offer 24 million households download speeds at up 100M bps (bits per second), twice as fast as is currently possible, according to spokesman Philipp Blank.

The increased speed is needed to compete with cable operators, Blank said.

Consumers want more bandwidth to the home as they are watching more high-definition video delivered over the Internet to an increasing number of devices including laptops, connected TV's, smartphones and tablets.

Deutsche Telekom uses a DSL technology called VDSL, rather than the more widely used ADSL. The performance of both ADSL and VDSL degrades the further the subscriber is from the exchange. VDSL is much faster over short distances, but its performance falls off more quickly, so over longer distances ADSL is the better performer. That makes VDSL more suitable for densely populated areas or network topologies with many, evenly distributed exchanges.

Vectoring improves VDSL (Very-high-bit-rate DSL) performance by removing crosstalk interference. It works by continuously analyzing the noise conditions on copper lines, and then creates a new anti-noise signal to cancel it out, much like noise cancelling headphones.

The 100M bps speeds can be offered at distances of up to 400 meters from the streetside cabinet, according to Alcatel-Lucent, one of the vendors offering vectoring products.

However, because of how vectoring works, Deutsche Telekom's upgrade plans first have to be approved by the local regulator, according to Blank. Today the operator is forced by the regulator to give its competitors access to its copper network, reselling that access as a range of different services. One of those services, though, is incompatible with vectoring, so before an upgrade can start Deutsche Telekom must negotiate the removal of the obligation to resell access in that form, he said.

'We would like to start upgrading next year," said Blank.

While fiber is the best broadband bearer for high speeds, copper still dominates with over 60 percent of the worldwide market, according to ABI Research. Fiber will have about 13 percent of the market by the end of the year, it said.

"Providing fiber all over Germany would cost about ¬80 billion and nobody is able to make such a huge investment at this time, so we need a step in between and that would be vectoring," said Blank.

Today, Deutsche Telekom offers broadband services via copper, fiber and mobile networks, including LTE.

More than one-third of the world's total households are expected have a fixed broadband connection at the end of 2012, according to ABI.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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