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The Internet Networking Technology

Bell Labs Fighting To Get More Bandwidth Out of Copper 106

jfruh writes You might think that DSL lost the race to cable and fiber Internet years ago, but Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs is working on a host of projects to extract more and faster bandwidth out of existing technologies. The company's technology aims to get hundreds of megabits a second over telephone lines. Other projects are aiming to boost speeds over fiber and cell networks as well.
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Bell Labs Fighting To Get More Bandwidth Out of Copper

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  • Of Course (Score:2, Funny)

    by kaiser423 ( 828989 )
    Of course they are, what else would they be doing, just letting the world pass them by?

    On the flip side, it isn't like we've seen massive DSL advancements recently (At least ones that have made it to consumers).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I knew it ... and now that we have removed all copper lines and replaced them by slow fiber optics.

    • Re:Damn! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @01:42AM (#49435759) Journal

      Now only if the fiber providers weren't massive cocksuckers too. I've been trying to get fiber into our small office suite for 5 weeks now, after it's already in the god damn building. But, in their infinite wisdom, they put the fiber transceiver in the back of the first subscriber in the building, rather than the common wiring riser. Then, when they get subscriber #2 (me) they want us to run wire into the back of a law firm's suite where their idiot install tech put the fiber transceiver. The law firm doesn't want us digging around in their closet, and we don't want to be either. What happens when subscriber #3 in the building wants fiber service? Is this lawyer's office now the building's wiring riser?

      When we asked them about this, they said we had to cancel our order and place a new one for them to relocate their equipment to where it should have been to begin with, and restart the clock on getting our connection. In the meantime, we're stuck with a shitty LTE connection that cannot handle the traffic that our tiny office needs. Meanwhile the telco is jerking us around because that's what telcos do, because they don't give two fucks, and we have no recourse.

      Competition fixes this kind of shit, when I can tell them to take their fiber service and shove it up their fibrous ass because they aren't the only game in town.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm convinced that most of the problems with US broadband aren't political. They're simply a result of the typical American just being a moron.

        No political change is going to turn idiots into geniuses.

        • If that were the only issue ...

          The more that things change, the more they stay the same.


        • I'm convinced that most of the problems with US broadband aren't political. They're simply a result of the typical American just being a moron.

          I think you're missing a connection here. It is precisely because of the second that the first is permitted to happen. The soi-disant "service providers" convince the political powers that they are doing the best for the price; the political powers don't have the technical knowledge to see through the lies; and the typical American, having even less knowledge, doesn't push his government to push the providers. (Besides, the few have convinced the many/morons that "standards" are a bad thing, rather than

      • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @04:34AM (#49436231) Homepage

        Back in the 1990s, I was working in Kentucky for an ISP and doing assorted contracting work.

        I had a case that was rather similar what you're describing, only ours wasn't run that way because of incompetence -- we were connecting up all of the offices of the Department of Public Advocacy, and for one location the state had decided that rather than get a new line to the DPA offices, as they were in the back of a shopping mall that already had some government offices in it, we'd get fibre pulled between the two offices. Mind you, this was frame relay and fractional T1 days, before DSL, so a new drop was pretty expensive. (I want to say it was around $500/month for just the line charges for a T1, not including the port charges to the ISP tht you were connecting through).

        So, when we went there for the install, someone had already pulled the fibre -- I went on the 3 hr drive down there, got soeone to escort me to where I needed to go, and plugged in all of our gear, then went and set things up on the DPA side.

        All was fine for a year or so, then we got a call that things were down -- we tried everything that we could over the phone with non-IT folks (it's an office of lawyers), so I was sent on the 6hr round-trip with spare fibre patch cables and such.

        A quick check in at the DPA offices showed nothing wrong over there, so I went over the other end of the bulding. I don't remember what the name of the department was, but it was a sort of family services type thing (where people got food stamps, stuff like that). I went up the counter and told the person behind the plexiglass that I was with DPA, and we had equipment in their wiring closet that I needed to get access to.

        To which she replied, 'DPA is around the corner'. And I said no, I work for the DPA, and I need to get into your wiring closet. And she kept repeating that DPA was around the corner. I asked for her to get someone else. And I waited 10 minutes or so for someone else to come out front. Once she showed up, I spent a few more minutes with the 'DPA is around the corner' response until I *finally* got through to her and convinced her to let me into their closet. (mind you, this would likely have been considered 'social engineering' if I did it today, as I showed them no ID, being that I had none that said I did work for the DPA).

        When I finally got to the closet, I saw that our box had no lights on it ... I traced the power cord down to a power strip that someone had removed all other things from, and taped over those outlets and written 'BAD' across it ... yet left our fiber tranciever plugged into it. I think I was in the room for all of 5 minutes -- it took me *way* more time trying to talk them into letting me in the room than to actually diagnose the problems *including* the time spent in the other offices.

        So ~6.5 hrs to fix a problem, because the other office didn't care at all about our gear in their closet, as it would've taken them less than a minute to have moved everthing that was plugged into the known-bad power strip.

        So I'd have to say -- no way in hell should you run cable to a private office. If nothing else, that office might close or move, and who knows what might be in there next (or if the new tenents want to remodel it).

      • by Cramer ( 69040 )

        You do know, you can get commercial service ("fiber") from anyone, right? You have to be worth the effort to get anyone to actually run the fiber in the first place, 'tho. (sometimes, even paying 100% of the costs isn't enough.)

    • ... and now that we have removed all copper lines and replaced them by slow fiber optics.

      ... and now that Meth-heads have removed all copper lines and sold them for Meth.

      • Near where I live some meth heads tried to steal the copper wiring running across a bridge. They melted through the conduit the wiring was in, only to find out it was fiber-optic.
        • I don't know whether this is the location you're talking about, butthe same thing happened recently in Anthem, AZ. The result was a cutoff of fiber to the entire northern half of the state for days. Even the ATMs stopped working.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would love to have some leverage against my cable company. I call to quit and they laugh and say -- "we see you can go to DSL and DirectTV for video. Would you really like to drop us? OK." Verizon has apparently decided that they will never roll out FIOS to our area, for some reason.
    • Or anywhere else. FiOS expansion is officially over. It might show up if you're near a current service area and an actual competitor like Google comes to town, but if you don't currently have it don't hold your breath.

  • by stox ( 131684 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @12:39AM (#49435557) Homepage

    I guess if I had an apartment at the CO that might work out well.

    • Re:Only 30 meters (Score:4, Informative)

      by mveloso ( 325617 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @12:42AM (#49435563)

      This is exactly what it's for: apartment buildings. There are lots of places around the US where DSL is on-prem, and it's supposedly cheaper than fiber or running ethernet.

      • by caferace ( 442 )
        30 meters is not very far (like, 3 apartments?) when you're trying to run cables in an apartment building. This is not line-of-sight magic. -jim
      • This is exactly what it's for: apartment buildings. There are lots of places around the US where DSL is on-prem, and it's supposedly cheaper than fiber or running ethernet.

        30 meters isn't long enough to handle your typical apartment complex, let alone a single row of units.
        There are NOT "lots of places around the US where DSL is on-prem".

      • by Cramer ( 69040 )

        You do realize 30m is less than 100ft? That technology wouldn't work from the closet to my desk within my small office. (my office being the farthest from the closet) 30m is less than 1/3rd the max distance of standard ethernet. Ethernet isn't that expensive or difficult to wire. (and the "phone" is very likely to be cat5e in the first place -- cheap and abundant.)

    • Basically, the CO is a pedestal at the end of your block

  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bjwest ( 14070 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @12:43AM (#49435571)
    This is actually a good thing. There are millions of homes in the rural U.S. that have copper phone lines to them that will NEVER get fiber. Anything to get even old timey DSL out to them will be a good thing. I myself would love to move a couple of miles outside of town on a couple of acres.
    • more and faster bandwidth out of existing technologies

      should read; more and faster bandwidth out of existing infrastructure... win/win? - consumers get more bandwidth, telco can charge higher rates.

    • Even in suburbia it can work out.

      My DSL (vdsl2 modem) is 48 Mbps down 16 up. All the time, not a shared cable loop. My comcast friends pay a similar amount and have similar speeds --- but only during non-peak times. We found the cable loop is shared in the neighborhood, and peak evening hours most cable-using homes in my neighborhood struggle to get a steady 10 down.

      While VDSL2 doesn't compare well against fiber to the home, it can compete well with most cable offerings.

      • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

        My VDSL2 connection is sold as 100/10, which according to my router is currently connected at 86552/10000 kbps. It's very common around here to have fibre to apartment complex and then VDSL2 over telephone lines for last mile.

        And this is indeed my personal connection, not shared with everyone on the same cable loop.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          But... WHY?!
          Why didn't they just put a swich in the basement and TP-cables to the apartment.. TA DA, fiber.
          Why put a DSLAM in there for degraded service?

        • My VDSL2 connection is sold as 100/10, which according to my router is currently connected at 86552/10000 kbps. It's very common around here to have fibre to apartment complex and then VDSL2 over telephone lines for last mile.

          My cable connection is sold as 100/10. It connects using an 8x2 DOCSIS 3.0 channel bonding setup, providing a line rate of 343.04/61.44. DOCSIS overhead makes this around 304/54 usable. My modem's config file has it limit me to 115/11.5 and I can generally use every bit of that.

          And this is indeed my personal connection, not shared with everyone on the same cable loop.

          What sort of a connection do you think is upstream of the DSLAM? I guarantee if even a fraction of the users you share hardware with tried to max out their connections at the same time you'd see the same problems as an over-overs

          • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

            Problem being that "errors on the line" can be caused by other people on the loop. As do many other issues with circle topology in general.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The bandwidth at the node is still shared. I have uverse and Netflix during prime time sucks.

      • But if you live in the right neighborhood, cable wins out because nobody is using the bandwidth but you. It's only a matter of time, but I'm happy for now.

    • by storkus ( 179708 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @01:39AM (#49435745)

      My dad lives around 4 route-miles from the CO and not only can't get DSL, he can't even get decent POTS as the entire cable (not just his pair) has severe power line hum on it and the phone company (now Frontier) refuses to fix it. He uses it for fax and it works...sometimes. For voice he uses his cell, but as this is an in-between area for GSM carriers, that tends to be flaky as well.

      Meanwhile, as I've already said, I'm around the same distance from my CO, and the company (CenturyLink formerly Qwest formerly US Worst) refuses to install DSLAMs or anything. Oh, and the cable that comes to us is also rotting in the ground so there are periodic outages, the last one killing of the the 3 bonded T1 lines that we have for internet (that we have to give away for free) since we can't get DSL. Its starting to seem like the cable company might be more reliable than the phone company, and yes, that thought sends a chill up my spine. Oh, and I'm in Phoenix, only 6 miles from downtown, not the sticks.

      So excuse me if I don't buy any of these things: just because the tech is developed doesn't mean anyone will actually deploy it.

      • That's sad. Frontier rolled out tons of DSL to way out in the rural middle of nowhere in Southern Illinois. I think they stopped rollout, but I know people who are 10 miles from town who have good quality DSL. I think they are the only phone company around here that has DSLAMs anywhere but the CO. AT&T definitely doesn't run fiber or power to remote DSLAMs. Or even fix their rotting copper.

        If I were your dad, I'd get one of those cordless phone systems that will bluetooth to your cell phone. Put t

        • by storkus ( 179708 )

          This thread is old now, but this comment deserves a reply as a warning to others. Here's a previous /. story:


          The phone company there is former Continental Telephone, then GTE, then Verizon, and now Frontier; this is the same company that serves southern California and was originally directly connected (decades ago, until a couple/few years after the AT&T divestiture). The story above is the latest sale of Verizon landline assets to Frontier (and occasionally others); t

      • A PUC complaint fixes both that humming problem and Frontier's motivation to fix said problem very quickly btw.
      • Look up Connect America Fund. Frontier, Windstream and other rural providers are building out subsidized by the gov.
    • someone named Sckipio claims they can get this up to 500 meters, about 1/3 mile. So your still screwed. Still need fiber to the distrubution point, then to the house....FTTdp is the name.
    • Except for the countries investing more efficiently in their infrastructure. []

      Fiber is the future, this is a stop-gap at best.

    • by jovetoo ( 629494 )
      Except that they concentrate on "the last mile" and take this very literally. I have a VDSL2 with vectoring connection that supports 70mbit down and 10mbit up (and the modem claims it can go to 110/27) but I'm only a few hundred meter from the exchange. Don't expect bandwidth like that after a mile of copper cable... that rural house that will NEVER get fiber will NEVER get decent xDSL either.
      • Ever see a big black box hanging on a line between telephone poles? It's a repeater. A weakened, degraded signal comes in, is boosted and resynchronized, and is sent out as good as new for another XXX meters. Rinse and repeat, just apply money.
        • by jovetoo ( 629494 )
          If you have to add a repeater every kilometer and keep them powered, managed and maintained, the deployment price will still be prohibitive for rural areas.
    • They may never get fiber but there is a chance. The US gov has a program called the Connect America Fund. Rural providers such as Windstream, Frontier, and others get subsidized to provide fiber to the node service to rural customers. Billions are being spent on it. While they would need some DSL form to the home, it at least gets fiber to within reach and faster DSL tech is welcome.
  • It's Really Radio! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bruce Perens ( 3872 ) <> on Thursday April 09, 2015 @01:08AM (#49435639) Homepage Journal

    DSL sends radio frequencies over twisted pair. Lots of carriers on lots of different frequencies. Radio stations actually interfere with it, for this reason some DSL systems are known to perform better in the daytime! DSL also puts out broadband radio noise.

    Coaxial cable leaks too. When I lived on Long Island, I used to be able to receive it with an antenna! But it generally leaks less.

    Fiber to the home is a much better option, but many locales are not being built out for it and will never be. Where I live we have ATT fiber to the neighborhood, and the last 1000 feet are copper. And it's slower than coaxial cable.

  • by gubon13 ( 2695335 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @01:39AM (#49435747)
    Considering that my dad has had 100Mbps+ VDSL2 in South Korea for almost a decade, I fail to see how DSL speeds are *technically* a limiting factor. Sure, there are line quality issues, etc., but the capability has been there for years. Giving us an even better theoretical upper limit is meaningless if Big Telecom continues to overprice and under-deliver.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Big telecom in the US is dis-incentivized because the POTS is a shared resource that they do not have sole access to

      If they throw in a fiber link they get control over access and can deny competitors

      In this case they probably want to run fiber to the neighborhood pedestal, then use the existing lines to the houses

      This will keep their competitors from piggybacking, unless they want to build out their own links to the neighborhood

      • by Sique ( 173459 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @02:59AM (#49435973) Homepage
        We see the reverse in Europe. Here, POTS is a shared resource too, but competition started only when the sole access of the single provider was lifted, and each cable operator has to allow competitors at equal conditions on his cables.

        I live in a rural village of about 2,000 inhabitants, and I have 30/6 mbit/sec DSL at around 30 €/month. In fact I guess that most "cable companies" are running DSL to your home and then send the TV signals within the DSL. I know that most phone companies do. If you order a T1 or E1 with them, you get a DSL modem with a T1/E1 port.

        • Australia initially benefited from this too, though most of the smaller ISPs are merging together into larger ones to have more market power / reduce costs for redundant services. Seems the competition boon doesn't last forever, though at least the end result should be 2-3 large ISPs and a couple of fringe ones.

    • A couple of points;
      1. The VDSL2 of 100Mmps only works for 500 meters. After that it slows down even more. At 1000m it is down to 50MBps.
      2. The article talks about 10Gb/s which is two orders of magnitude faster.

    • He must live right next to the CO then, or be within 500 feet of the CO or a fiber node. Or a sorcerer, using magic to make the signal go farther than physics will allow. Just be careful of paradox...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They don't want to replace all the copper cables they have everywhere afterall.

  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday April 09, 2015 @03:44AM (#49436087) Homepage

    How much RFI will this cause on radio frequencies?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How much RFI will this cause on radio frequencies?

      I'm guessing that all of the RFI will be on radio frequencies.

  • The problem with DSL isn't the copper, it's the ancient switches and terrible cheap-ass wiring that makes up the millions of 'last miles' to peoples homes that suck so bad that you'll never get decent speed across them. Cable has the large advantage of new cables as well as how much they can push.
  • There will be an upper limit anyway, but I cannot find any insightful document on it: what is the typical analog bandwidth of copper wires?
  • ...from the CO to my house. But that is so far beyond the state of the art it is mind-boggling to even hope for a breakthrough.

    Actually, Verizon is refusing to maintain the copper so that the remaining landline customers will give up and they can pull it all. The last thing they want is to add DSL customers.

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.