New DSL Standard Promises 10 Times the Speed

An international standards group has approved a new DSL standard that it says will increase the technology’s upstream and downstream speeds to as much as 100 megabits per second — 10 times faster than the fastest DSL now offered by carriers.

The Geneva, Switzerland-based International Telecommunications Union (ITU) approved the standard for Very-High-Bit-Rate Digital Subscriber Line 2 (VDSL2) last week, but it might be years before most consumers see it on their doorstep.

According to a statement by the ITU, its recommendations will boost the competitive stance of DSL providers by allowing them to offer services such as high-definition TV (HDTV), video on demand programming, video conferencing, high-speed Internet access and advanced voice services like voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) — all over standard copper telephone lines.

Takes DSL to Next Level

“We have leveraged the strengths of ADSL, ADSL2+ and VDSL to achieve the very high performance levels you will see with VDSL2,” Yoichi Maeda, chairman of the ITU group that developed the new standard, said in a statement.

“This new standard is set to become an extremely important feature of the telecommunications landscape, and is a landmark achievement for our members, many of whom are relying on this recommendation to take their businesses to the next level,” Maeda said.

Although VDSL2’s specifications say it can reach 100 megabit speeds, it’s unlikely that that kind of service will be delivered to ordinary consumers, according to Bruce Leichtman, president and principal analyst with the Leichtman Research Group, a broadband, media and entertainment research firm in Durham, N.H.

Consumer Prohibitive

“The cost on something like that would be consumer prohibitive,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“The chord that DSL has struck has been the low price chord,” he added. “Clearly, the carriers are not going to offer 100 megabits at $30 a month.”

How existing carriers will work VDSL2 into their future plans will vary with their overall strategy in the market.

Verizon on Fence

Verizon, for instance, which is in the process of building out its fiber optic network to reach the doorstep of all its customers, appears to be in no rush to bring the new technology online.

“Like any new technology, we’ll be looking at it [VDLS2],” spokesperson Mark Marchand told TechNewsWorld. “I can’t say if we will or will not be using it.”

“We know that we’re going to be putting video on fiber,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons that we’re putting fiber into the home and into small and medium-sized businesses.”

“Whether or not we use the standard of VDSL for the copper wire broadband, we don’t know yet,” he added.

BellSouth Accommodation

Brent Fowler, a spokesperson for BellSouth, told TechNewsWorld that he did not expect VDSL2 to be implemented for “several years, but it’s something that we’re designing and engineering our network to accommodate once it’s available.”

Currently, BellSouth is expanding its ADSL2 service, which can reach speeds of 24 Mbps, explained. “We will work with that technology until VDSL2 becomes available,” he said. “Then we will bring VDSL2 into the mix as we continue deploying ADSL2.”

He maintained that BellSouth expects consumers to be interested in the technology. “We’re transforming our network to an IP-based broadband network,” he explained. “The IP traffic that will ride over it will include things like voice over IP, interactive gaming, higher broadband speeds and potentially video services,” he explained.

It’s All in the Loops

While tremendous speeds can be achieved through VDSL2, they can only be achieved over short lengths of copper. The technology is expected to be a high-speed bridge between the end of a carrier’s fiber and a home or business.

“With our fiber-to-the-curb network, our final jump to the customer is 250 feet,” Fowler said. “As you get to longer loops, the technology will slow down. But at 250 feet, it will approach 100 [Mbps].”

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