DSL May be the Future of 4K Streaming thanks to Potential Gigabit Boost
by Stephan Jukic – October 22, 2014
Thanks to a potential new chip technology known as G.fast, the copper phone lines of DSL internet conections might get a new lease on life and a dramatic supercharge of speed.
As one of the oldest technologies for bringing high-speed internet connectivity to homes, DSL has been a very useful technology but it did lack the speed of newer systems like Fiber.
Now however, this might change dramatically thanks to a few new products that have been unveiled at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, Holland this week. According to claims made at the forum, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology could soon be seeing speeds of several hundred megabits or even 1 gigabit or more; hundreds of times faster than those DSL enjoyed when it first came out.
The main cause of this dramatic DSL update will be a new chip technology called G.fast, and among those developing the home gear and network chips to enable the G.fast technology are major telecom industry giants like Broadcom, Sckipio and tech development laboratories like Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs.
According to some of these players, we should see the G.fast technology being used in homes as of 2016.
In many of the world’s more industrialized countries, and in the U.S in particular, Cable TV wiring and in some cases fiber optic technology have replaced DSL as the main mediums for transmitting high-speed broadband connections. Companies like Google in the U.S.A and Virgin Media in the U.K have both been particular proponents of the use of fiber optic connectivity to develop connections that range between the hundreds of megabits and 1 gigabit+ in speed.
The result of these newer developments was that the older DSL has started being viewed as yesterday’s broadband technology given that its twisted copper wire design is more susceptible to interference from radio-frequency waves.
However, now that G.fast is being developed by the several companies mentioned above, the picture for DSL might change dramatically.
The upgrade to G.fast levels of connectivity will still be expensive but according to analysts, DSL still offers certain enormous benefits and cost savings for bringing truly high speed connectivity to developing markets in particular. In many of these countries, the major advantage of DSL upgrades lies in the fact that the networks themselves are already well developed: while much of the world doesn’t have extensive cable-TV networks in place and even less of a developed fiber-optic infrastructure, the Phone networks that make up DSL are quite widely used.
Globally there were still more than 420 million DSL subscribers as of 2013 according to analysts from research firm IHS. Both cable and Fiber are growing as well but the prevalence of DSL continues to be the broadest.
One of the developers of the new G.fast technology, Broadcom, unveiled its new DSL enhancing chips just a couple days ago at the Broadband World Forum. The company claims that its BCM65200/900 chips, as they’re known, offer “the most power efficient system solution for high-density G.vector DSLAMs as well as new G.fast-based fiber-to-the-distribution point architectures”. In other words, their chips make backward-compatibility of ultra-high-speed internet connectivity a possibility for existing VDSL and ADSL infrastructure.
Broadcom isn’t the only one developing the enormous new speeds that are expected of DLS connections by as early as 2016. Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell labs, Huawei and British Telecom are all also testing the technology.
Bell Labs in particular recently managed to “set a new broadband speed record” by creating a connection strength of a whopping 10 gigabits over traditional DSL lines. This incredible feat was achieved over a distance of only 30 meters but Alcatel-Lucent claims that 1 Gbps upload and download speeds over copper DSL may be possible in the real world very soon, particularly in situations where mainline fiber connections are used in conjunction with copper wires.
G.fast operates at higher frequencies than existing DSL technology and will work best over shorter distances that can be used as bridges between newly installed fiber mainline connections and homes or offices with older DSL lines running into them.
Most importantly, in the context of 4K Ultra HD content delivery, a new, easier means of accessing much larger broadband connections of 500Mbps or more will mean far broader consumer access to even the most data intensive 4K streaming services.
Story by 4k.com