Copper still has a lot to offer broadband users, carrier exec says

Thanks to advanced noise-canceling technology speeds can be increased to 100M bps

Thanks to the higher speeds possible using a technology called vectoring, copper networks are still a viable option to cable and fiber, Deutsche Telekom says.

Rolling out fiber-to-the-home to all households in Germany will take too long and is too expensive; a better option is to upgrade current copper-based networks to offer higher speeds using vectoring, according to Deutsche Telekom, which talked about its broadband plans at the CeBIT trade show.

The technology improves VDSL (Very-high-bit-rate DSL) performance by removing crosstalk interference. It works by continuously analyzing the noise conditions on copper lines, and then creates a new anti-noise signal to cancel it out, much like noise-cancelling headphones.

"With vectoring you get up to 100M bps in download speeds and 40M bps in upload speeds," said Niek Jan van Damme, member of the Deutsche Telekom board and head of the carrier's German operations.

For the next 10 to 15 years that will be enough for 90 percent of broadband users, according to van Damme.

Today, the need for more bandwidth is driven by users watching more high-definition video delivered over the Internet to an increasing number of devices including laptops, connected TVs, smartphones and tablets.

Just like any DSL technology, the speed users get is dependent on the distance and the quality of the copper. The 100M bps speeds can be offered at distances of up to 400 meters from the streetside cabinet, according to Alcatel-Lucent, one of the vendors offering vectoring products.

Before Deutsche Telekom can start upgrading its network to support vectoring, its upgrade plans have to be approved by the local regulator, Bundesnetzagentur.

"The latest information is that we will have the first answer by May this year. It could be a little earlier in April, but in May we should have answer. Whether it's a conclusive answer or not we have to wait and see," van Damme said.

What the Bundesnetzagentur decides can have an impact on broadband users in other countries, as well. If Deutsche Telekom's implementation of the technology is successful it could spur other operators to do the same.

While fiber is the best broadband bearer for high speeds, copper still dominates with about 60 percent of the worldwide market, according to ABI. The global fixed broadband market including DSL, cable, and fiber-optic services generated US$188 billion in service revenue last year, a 7 percent increase from 2011, ABI said.

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Copper is dieing as a medium for transfering data simply because optic fibre can be used to transmit data up 10 klms without a repeater and at speeds of over 1000mbps. The information in the article above is irrelevent in 2013. Escpecially when you consider that the Australian Labor party has allready started rolling out optic fibre through out the country. If Germany is as efficient as they like us all to think they are, they would be wise to install optic fibre.



Yeah, but I am in an area that is not scheduled for upgrade to fibre for at least 4 years and due to the Labor parties monopolistic business practice, no ISP is going to invest in new copper broadband technology to service my area. So I am screwed either way.



It would be nice if NBN Co released:
1. A map of what the country will look like when finished. ie what's getting optic fibre, what's getting wireless and what's getting satellite.
2. What order towns are being planned to receive construction.
Also, Trevor, you might like to consider that Telstra's copper is beyond it's use by date and was costing $1 billion almost a year to maintain. That sort of money was coming most from the government in the form of a USO agreement. The cost of maintaining the copper is increasing every year.

Tom Brown


Sorry Trevor, it is Telstra's position to upgrade the copper, they own it and have protected their rights aggressively, and Telstra havn't upgraded much in the last 40 years, when plastic replaced paper as insulation.

This is not the first technology touting improving copper, they all rely on either multiple channels or some kind of interference countering. They are all expensive and clumsy and require close proximity to the exchange or stable lines or a combination of both.

There is nothing like a technology designed to exceed the requirement without resorting to bodgy fixes.

Richard Ure


There is a simple obvious point missing from this story: what percentage of Australian copper can support VDSL? If ANY copper needs replacing, what is the point of publishing the story in Australia because there is no point in replacing copper with copper?



We recently attended a customers site for a new phone system where Telstra where installing a new ISDN service. The service only required 1 pair of copper lines to get the service up and running, after testing 12 pairs going back to the exchange and finding them all faulty the Telstra tech was left scratching his head.

Is this the copper infrastructure your suggesting spending more money on to extend its life for another 10-15 years, allowing Australia to slip further behind other nations.

The phrase "throw good money after bad" comes to mind. Australia's copper network is not just a lame duck its a lame blind duck with cancer and it would be criminal to subject it to anymore pain.



@ spiral, Honestly, you guys are still installing ISDN? Wow! that takes me back...
P.S. Totally agree with the rest of your post.

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