As cable operators bundle triple play services and expand in Europe, former major telecommunications companies are tapping the virtues of the decades old copper wires to prevent customers from drifting away. With wireless markets saturated, operators like Deutsche Telekom AG, Telekom Austria (News - Alert) AG, Belgacom SA and several others are testing a wired technology that promises existing wired infrastructure to carry HD movies and music, in addition to speedier calls.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the technology is available to a small number of users and it enables operators to match the speed offered by cable. Thus, this is helping telecom carriers to avoid spending billions of dollars to lay new fiber-optic lines.
Hannes Wittig, an analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in London, told Businessweek, “Phone (News - Alert) companies understand that they need to utilize their copper networks as well as possible to stand a chance against cable providers.” He added, “While this technology may not obliterate cable, it’s the only thing they can afford.”
A person familiar with the situation added that Vodafone (News - Alert) Group Plc is considering a bid for Kabel Deutschland AG, Germany’s biggest cable operator with a market value of over six billion Euros (US $8.02 billion). Likewise, a week earlier, billionaire John Malone’s Liberty Global Inc. agreed to buy Virgin Media (News - Alert) Inc. for about $16 billion, adding five million subscribers in the U.K.
In fact, the new wired technology is labeled “vectoring.” It allows telecom carriers to speed up signals by cutting down interference in copper wires. The vectoring hardware, developed by Alcatel-Lucent (News - Alert) SA, is being tested by dozens of carriers. And some nine have inked contracts for installation, wrote Rahn.
As per this report, Alcatel-Lucent has developed a chip that measures that noise and generates countersignals to offset it, letting operators double transmission speed. Though rivals are working on similar equipment, Alcatel’s offering is the most advanced, according to JPMorgan, wrote Rahn.
Commenting on this development, Stefaan Vanhastel, director of Fixed Access Marketing at Alcatel, said, “You’re basically looking at tens or hundreds of thousands of what we call disturbers – lines that generate crosstalk and interfere with your line.” He added, “Measuring and canceling that in real time has been the challenge.”
On TMCnet’s network infrastructure blog, TMCnet Executive Editor Paula Bernier wrote that VDSL2 vectoring pushes the capacity of twisted pair to the next level. As a result, data rates can be improved by up to 50 percent, enabling operators to get more value out of the copper they already have installed and depreciated.
However, some analysts are of the opinion that vectoring technology may only give phone companies a brief respite because customers will continue to ask for more video, games and music as cable and wireless networks continue to improve.
Edited by Jamie Epstein