Alcatel-Lucent Surpasses 300 Million DSL Ports in Its Drive to Connect the World

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Alcatel-Lucent’s 300 million-DSL port shipment benchmark highlights the company’s long-time commitment to the wireline broadband market, including multiple evolutions of DSL that have led to groundbreaking technologies such as VDSL vectoring, Vplus and G.fast.
  • While this achievement is worthy of celebration, Alcatel-Lucent will continue to leverage its extensive product R&D resources, including Bell Laboratories, to develop and deliver even more powerful, higher-speed wireline access technologies to address evolving operator service imperatives such as 4KTV.

The first quarter of 2015 saw Alcatel-Lucent surpass an important, and impressive, milestone: 300 million total DSL port shipments. But, unlike McDonalds’ ubiquitous fast food signage has highlighted for decades – now simply “billions and billions served” – Alcatel-Lucent has taken a far more humble response to achieving this benchmark. Continue reading “Alcatel-Lucent Surpasses 300 Million DSL Ports in Its Drive to Connect the World”

Celtic-Plus Seeks to Mine Gigabit Access Speeds from Copper with GOLD Project

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Celtic-Plus, a research initiative composed of operators, fixed access systems and CPE vendors, chipset suppliers, and two universities, has initiated its “Gigabits Over the Legacy Drop” project, or GOLD, to develop copper-based multi-gigabit fixed access solutions based on the G.fast standard.
  • The GOLD initiative demonstrates that telco operators are clearly still interested in “sweating” their copper network assets to the greatest extent possible, again highlighting the fact that full-fiber FTTH networks are still too expensive, at least within the current EU regulatory environment.

Last week, Celtic-Plus, a European research initiative, announced a new project: “Gigabits Over the Legacy Drop” (GOLD). The goal of the GOLD project is to leverage the newly-minted G.fast standard – which itself is designed to support up to 1 Gigabit (aggregate) connections to end users – to enable operators to expand their ultra-broadband networking capabilities to include multi-gigabit services over last-run access copper. This will be achieved by using the next proposed step in the G.fast standard, presumably, the 212 MHz frequency (the current standard is based on a maximum frequency of 106 MHz). The GOLD project, which started in January 2015, will run for three full years, finishing in December 2017. The GOLD consortium participants are listed below: Continue reading “Celtic-Plus Seeks to Mine Gigabit Access Speeds from Copper with GOLD Project”

4KTV: Are Operators and Their Networks Ready? Not Just Yet

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Despite the hype surrounding 4K/UHD TV/video, the fact is that most broadband networks are not yet capable of supporting broadcast-quality 4K services, according to Akamai and other industry sources.
  • While new access network technologies, and new architectures, will enable the delivery of 4K TV/video, including linear, multichannel services, we are still several years away from 4K becoming a mass-market reality.

Several months ago on Twitter, prompted by a tweet announcing “Panasonic’s Ultra HD Blu-ray player could make discs matter again,” I replied, “#4K #Bluray memory space on current discs can be solved by #Laserdisc/LP-sized format (!), but it will never happen.” For those of us that spent a good portion of our youth enjoying music via vinyl records played on turntables, a return to a 12-inch (30-cm) laserdisc-sized physical format would certainly be a blast from the past. Some of us might even enjoy the novelty of such a now-massive format. Of course, this proved a far-fetched pipedream, as evolving, multi-layer technology will enable the continuing usage of the existing CD/DVD/Blu-ray-sized format. Continue reading “4KTV: Are Operators and Their Networks Ready? Not Just Yet”

Is an Executive Order Necessary to Enable City and Municipal Fiber?

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • President Obama has threatened an executive order to ensure that U.S. cities and municipalities are NOT prohibited from building their own broadband networks; he needs to follow through, if necessary.
  • Incumbent operators need to view city and/or municipal networks as opportunities instead of threats. For example, they can partner to deliver service bundles over these networks, without having to invest in FTTH network builds themselves.

When I first became aware that legislatures in 20 U.S. states have passed laws banning cities/municipalities from building their own fiber/ultra-broadband networks – in many cases, spurred by lobbying efforts funded by incumbent operators – I was stunned, and then appalled. How un-American. I had a similar reaction when several state legislatures either passed laws or ensured the continuing enforcement of outdated code preventing Tesla Motors from selling directly to customers (with Michigan, unsurprisingly, being the most blatant about it).

However, there is a massive difference between buying an automobile and “buying” a fiber network. With the Tesla, the buyer/consumer can still buy the car from dealers in Tesla-friendly states, adjacent or not. But, unlike a car, one cannot just buy a fiber network infrastructure and take it home. Continue reading “Is an Executive Order Necessary to Enable City and Municipal Fiber?”

2014: Year of the Gigabit?

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

• 2014 will go down as the year that Gigabit access became a tangible reality, with more than 100 substantial deployments attracting mainstream media attention and garnering some limited consumer mindshare.

• Cable operators, after first dismissing the need for Gigabit services, flip-flopped in 2014, asserting their own DOCSIS 3.1-powered Gigabit service roadmaps, to counter the various rival threats.

2014 was a pivotal year for fixed broadband access. More specifically, Gigabit access. While Gigabit residential broadband services have been available in some selected markets for years – most notably, Hong Kong – and a handful of operators in both Europe and North America have also offered Gigabit services (Hyperoptic in the UK, EPB in the US), these have been the extreme outliers, representing a tiny fraction of FTTH customers, let alone fixed broadband users. The Google Fiber footprint still numbers less than 10,000 subscribers at this point, despite the hype.

Continue reading “2014: Year of the Gigabit?”

HKT Vectors Across a Digital Divide in Hong Kong

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

  • Hong Kong Telecom, which serves over 500,000 customers with FTTH connections, is now deploying VDSL2 vectoring technology to address previously underserved broadband subscribers, and will leverage G.fast for further bandwidth/service upgrades.
  • Even in one of the highest-density cities in the world, with pervasive fiber, copper remains relevant, with VDSL2 vectoring enabling fiber-speed services where FTTH implementations are not feasible or cost-effective.

Hong Kong, as one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, as well as one of only 10 Alpha+/++ cities (centers of global finance and trade), has been a long-time poster child for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services. With more than seven million people living in a geographic area of just over 1,100 square kilometers (426 square miles), Hong Kong’s population density ranks behind only Macau, Monaco and Singapore. For clarification, there are dozens of cities worldwide that are more densely populated than Hong Kong (at least 15 in India, and 10 in the Philippines), but Hong Kong’s population is clustered into some extremely high-density areas including Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, which was once the home of a Walled City where 33,000 people lived in an area the size of one city block (see here).

Getting back to the plot… Continue reading “HKT Vectors Across a Digital Divide in Hong Kong”

G.fast Keeps Copper Elemental for Gigabit Service Delivery

Erik Keith
Erik Keith

Summary Bullets:

• G.fast, ratified a week ago by the ITU, can deliver up to 1 Gbps of aggregate throughput to end users over the existing telco copper plant. With testing and some limited commercial deployments planned for 2015, is the hype about G.fast deserved?

• Will developing cable access technologies such as DOCSIS 3.1 and CCAP provide cable operators with effective countermeasures to G.fast and other telco copper-focused enhancement technologies?

One week ago today, on December 5th, the ITU ratified the G.fast standard. For many industry insiders, this was no surprise. In fact, it was simply the formal approval of G.fast specification G.9701, per the ITU’s schedule. However, the media buzz generated by the ITU’s G.fast approval has seemed disproportionately higher than expected. So, what gives? Is December a slow news month? Yes. Are there not more important things to write about in terms of fixed broadband? Actually, no. Finally, does G.fast deserve all of this attention? Well, yes! Continue reading “G.fast Keeps Copper Elemental for Gigabit Service Delivery”