Australian NBN pushes home copper broadband to 8Gbps
18 October 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) wholesale operator has pushed the speed of broadband over traditional copper wires to 8Gbps in a trial in its Sydney labs with Bell Labs.
The company, which is charged with delivering last-mile broadband to Australian homes and businesses as a wholesale provider to retail operators, was working with Bell Labs, the US-based research centre that is now owned by Nokia.
The technology “gives us the ability to deliver multi-gigabit speeds over copper lines – virtually on a par with what is currently available on fibre-to-the-premises – but at a lower cost and time to deploy”, said NBN’s chief technology officer, Dennis Steiger. The trials took place at NBN's labs in North Sydney.
Nokia said the technology, which is called XG-FAST, could eventually deliver 2Gbps over 100 metres from cabinet to customer. The NBN trial delivered 8Gbps over a 30m twisted-pair copper cable typically deployed in field, and a peak aggregate speed of 5Gbps over 70m.
These distances are important because they are close to the typical distance between streetside cabinets and customers.
BT reported speeds of 5.6Gbps over 35m in tests in 2015 in the UK and at Bell Labs’ Antwerp site in Belgium. Bell Labs became part of Nokia at the start of 2016 when the Finnish company bought Alcatel-Lucent.
Deutsche Telekom has also carried out trials of XG-FAST – a development of existing copper-over-broadband technology G.FAST – with Bell Labs. It reported 11Gbps over two bonded pairs of copper over 50m, and said: “XG-FAST is also capable of delivering 1Gbps symmetrical services at distances of 70m enabling operators to deliver fibre-like speeds inside buildings using existing telephone lines, eliminating the need to install new cabling.”
Federico Guillén, president of Nokia’s fixed networks business group, said about the NBN trial in Australia: “We are committed to further developing the technology to eventually support 2Gbps or more at 100m, enabling longer distances to effectively cover buildings and clusters of homes without the need to rewire. Nokia will continue to work with NBN to ensure they see the latest developments and technology innovation to evolve their network and deliver ultra-broadband to more people sooner.”
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