Gigabit DSL: Yes, it will happen

Copper is the cockroach of the telecom world – it just doesn’t go away. And if telecom technologists have their way, it could soon be carrying data at speed of gigabit per second.
Last week, ECI Telecom and a bunch of other companies announced a new consortium that would work on a technology called the Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM). The Chief Scientist Office of the Israeli Government has financed the consortium with a grant of about $10 million. DSM is widely viewed as the next evolutionary step after VDSL2. DSM, when commercialized could help provide fiber optic like speeds over copper, the consortium says. DSM addresses one of the biggest issues with the DSL technology – interference also known as crosstalk.

“The main obstacle for the advancement of DSL technology is the interference (“crosstalk”) generated from different DSL lines that share the same telephone cable binder,” said Professor John Cioffi, Professor of Engineering at Stanford University, a pioneer of DSM research, who is also recognized as the inventor of the DMT line code. “DSM is a promising technology for the future evolution of broadband access networks using existing copper infrastructure.”

People should pay attention to what Cioffi says.

He was recently awarded the Marconi Prize (and is the 2006 Marconi Fellow.) He is a soothsayer when it comes to all things DSL. According to DSL Prime, in 1990 he predicted that DSL could deliver between 5-to-10 megabits per second. Then in 2002 he predicted 100 megabits per second over copper. That happened. By 2004 companies like Ikanos and Metalink were showing off chips that could do 100 mega up and down. So now lets take what he is saying very seriously.

“Phone lines are big antennas that radiate into one another,” Cioffi says. “They are their own worst enemies when they are all bundled together. Any kind of [electromagnetic] noise from AM radios, fluorescent lights or your vacuum cleaner can get into these things and cause problems.” (via Stanford Report.)

Back in the 1990s his solution was to transmit data between two modems – say one at home and one at the telco central office – and connect them with each other via 256 different 4 kilobit per second channels. The traffic would flow over the less congested channels, and interference would be overcome.

With DSM, Cioffi is taking copper to the next level. DSM packs more channels and also uses the higher frequency bands that have not been useable because of extreme interference. He is betting that DSM is going to be big, and has decided to start a new company, Adaptive Spectrum and Signal Alignment (ASSIA) Inc. (more details to follow!)

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