Squeezing More Speed Out of Copper

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The Broadband World Forum is this week, and companies at the show are demonstrating ways to increase data capacity through our existing fiber infrastructure, according to Ars Technica. The main priority for telcos is, of course, making money, and thus far that’s mostly stalled implementation of fiber to residential customers. That being said, here are some new ideas for improving the network we've already got.

Reduction of noise. DSL lines utilizing copper wire suffer from what’s called crosstalk; signal noise bleeds from one wire to another. It degrades a signal already weakened by distance from the signal source. Complicated filters are used to reduce/correct noise between the wires currently, that’s not going to change. Improvements to the technology may help, though.

More wires! If a building already has more than one line going into it, these could be joined together to increase signal throughput. AT&T, for example, is already on this boat with its U-verse DSL, though that method is going to top out well below what competing cable companies can bring to the table, speed-wise. The fastest testing speeds at this time are from Huawei in Hong Kong, claiming 700 Mbps overall capacity with 4 “pairs” (lines).

Frequency. Voice travels on the same copper as your DSL service, just on another frequency. Even with voice and data, there’s room to push more data through the existing infrastructure.

Any of these (or all of them) will require at the very least new hardware on the telco side, and probably new hardware for the consumer as well. The question is going to be whether or not telcos are willing to let the gap between cable speeds and their own get larger and larger or put some money and effort into alternatives.

Check the link up top for updates, and leave your comments below!

[via Ars Technica / Photo: ab9kt on Flickr; used under Creative Commons]

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