Draft standards for VDSL2 equipment released

VDSL2 offers up to four times the download rates as current ADSL2+ services

Australia's Communications Alliance has revealed draft standards for the customer equipment that will be required for adoption of the next era in broadband technology - Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line 2 (VDSL2).

VDSL2 is being touted as the forefront of high speed broadband access, designed to support high definition television, voice, video and data services using existing copper infrastructure.

The draft standards proposed were developed by a Working Committee of the Alliance and will ensure customers will have access to equipment that is VDSL2 compatible.

"It's primarily for DSL modems," said James Duck, project manager at the Communications Alliance.

"What you would expect to see is equipment suppliers that are already doing ADSL1 or ADSL2+ looking to add on extra software in their modems, they might also need a different chipset."

VDSL2 has the potential to provide speeds up to four times faster than ADSL2+, but deteriorates the further away a customer is from the exchange.

"Once you go beyond a certain distance you are pretty much getting ADSL2+ equivalent speed," Duck said.

"Where it becomes really valuable is if you are a short distance from the exchange, say one to one and a half kilometers."

That extra hike in speed could, for example, see an offering of high definition streaming capabilities.

For potential customers, assuming their existing modem doesn't support VDSL2, an upgrade will be required and their ISP must also support the new technology.

At the provider end of the spectrum, implementation of VDSL2 will be dependent on the particular equipment in the exchange.

"It really depends on where they are up to with their own hardware and software. The information I've got is that there is a number of organizations that are talking to equipment suppliers about options for VDSL2," Duck said.

But with exchange space already at an absolute premium, widespread rollout of VDSL2 may take some time, unless those carriers that already have a foot in the exchange door decide to upgrade to VDSL2.

In a November Whirlpool forum, iiNet CTO Greg Bader said he supported anything that "drives the copper harder/faster", but suggested iiNet would "probably not" implement VDSL2, preferring instead to go for a combination model of ADSL2 with the ability to add VDSL2 once a "compelling business case presents itself".

Other providers, such as Eftel, have already announced a rollout of VDSL2 hardware.

Currently the Communications Alliance draft standards are in the period of public comment, which closes February 25.

"Once those comments have been resolved we'll look at having a ballot on the documents as part of the standards making process, and once we've done that we'll be looking to publish the standards so they become an Australian standard," Duck said.

The standards are then submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority for regulatory purposes.

"So we're looking at the second half of next year for the modems to formally become available," Duck said.

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Andrew Hendry

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