DSL TECHNOLOGY HASN’T really evolved much lately, but it seems like we might be in for a speed boost, at least if Bell Labs has anything to do with it. Bell Labs is working on a technology known as DSL Phantom Mode and it allows for speeds of up to 300Mbit, albeit only at fairly short distances of up to 400 meters.
However, it does also allow for speeds of up to a respectable 100Mbit at distances of up to 1,000 meters. So how does it all work? Well, it’s actually rather clever, as the so called phantom channel is done by creating a third virtual channel in addition to the two channels already available. The only problem we can see is that in some installations only a single pair of wires is used, especially in regions outside of the US, and this technology might not be suitable there, or it will require a second pair of phone wires to be installed from the local base station.
Bell Labs is using an industry standard technique called vectoring to eliminate crosstalk between the two pairs as well as the virtual third “phantom” pair. According to the article on GigaOm, AT&T’s network is already set and ready to use the new technology once it becomes commercially available, although some other service providers might have to install additional equipment to make it all work. As Bell Labs is part of Alcatel-Lucent we’re fairly certain that this technology will be commercialised if the trials work out as intended.
The real upside of this speed boost for DSL based technology is that it increases the life expectancy not only of the DSL technology itself, but also that of copper networks. The downside is of course new equipment at the user premises, which means yet another new router for the end user. However, this is a small cost compared to that of digging down fibre cable, although fibre done right is of course a much more future proof technology long term.
Then again, we’ve already seen trials with the various 4G wireless technologies hitting speeds of 100Mbit and beyond, so we might see a shift in the coming years away from expensive wired networks. But hopefully this advancement in DSL technology will tide us over until we actually get to the promised land of ubiquitous wireless access at affordable prices.S|A
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