Aussie scientist super-charges ADSL

Copper that runs at 100Mbits/s now possible.

An Australian researcher claims he has come up with a way to boost broadband speeds on ordinary ADSL lines by up to ten times.

The University of Melbourne's Dr. John Papandriopoulos outlined an algorithm to reduce the crosstalk interference on copper phone lines so well in his PhD thesis that it has landed him a job at Silicon Valley startup ASSIA, founded by DSL pioneer John Cioffi.

On his homepage, Papandriopoulos notes that ADSL technology is hampered by two big limitations, namely the length of a line from the exchange, and electromagnetic crosstalk, or line interference. Couple the two, and usable bandwidth often plummets from theoretical maximums on ADSL, ADSL2+ and VDSL2, leaving the average user struggling with well under 10Mbits/s.

So how does his discovery work?

"We formulate a (standard) model for how DSLs attain their data-rate, considering crosstalk interference effects. We exploit the fact that interference varies across the frequency spectrum, and that if we are clever about the way in which we allocate transmission power amongst the various frequency bands, we can manage the interference between (strongly) coupled lines," he explains on his homepage.

If it works, the technology will be of huge significance to ordinary Internet users the world over, given that a replacement for legacy copper phone connections is not imminent. On the plus side, it could appear in the relatively near future because it is based on software. One downside is that its inventor reckons it will require ADSL modems to be replaced, but that would probably happen anyway within the normal course of hardware upgrades.

Papandriopoulos says he has applied for two patents on his discovery, even as he heads to Cioffi's company to start his new career as the new ADSL guru.

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