An executive at a major US telco once asked, back in the dawn of the digital media era, “Why would anyone need 1 Mbps in their home?” Until recently, we said that 50 Mbps was sufficient for most residences but the changing market for OTT services has prompted us to increase that to 100 Mbps or more.
Chipmaker Lantiq has pioneered a broadband technology called FTTdp (fiber-to-the-distribution-point) that allows telcos to offer speeds in excess of 100 Mbps without having to install fiber all the way to the home. Its newest FTTdp chipset, called Vinax dp, allows telcos to offer speeds up to 200 Mbps down and 100 Mbps up without the costly, messy and time consuming process of deploying fiber all the way to each residence. The fiber that the Vinax-capable equipment is connected to can be as far as 200 meters away from the residence. That’s a long way when you’re digging trenches or stringing fiber on poles. The savings for telcos in not having to build all-fiber networks is in the billions of dollars and it’s hundreds of thousands of work hours.
The three changes in the market that have caused us to increase the amount of broadband bandwidth that we think most homes need are:
1. The recent surge in sales of UHD TV sets, made possible by their fast-falling prices and their ability to upconvert 1080p video to near UHD quality. Native UHD content is and will be available from OTT services for at least another year.
2. The continued proliferation and use of mobile viewing devices (tablets and smartphones) and smart TVs.
3. The continuing increase in the popularity of OTT service (there is one estimate that says it found that viewing OTT is now 90 minutes per day) and the move by pay TV services, traditional pay TV networks and movie studios to use OTT to deliver content to mobile devices and even to smart TVs and smart TV adapters.
Telcos and their suppliers are developing alternative copper wire technologies that allow their existing copper wire telephone wires to provide speeds that:
a) Keep the wolf (the cableco) away from their subscribers.
b) Keep subscribers happy especially for simultaneously streaming multiple high-quality videos
c) Keep government politicians and regulators happy.
Lantiq’s FTTdp technology is a universal solution because it works with telcos’ existing standards-compliant fiber and copper wire equipment, regardless of the manufacturer. That means telcos can use Lantiq’s dp technology with their existing networks and that many subscribers can use their existing gateways/modems. Telcos do not have to send a technician into the home. Many installed modems have a technology called Profile 30a and so can already process these higher data rates. It’s “plug and play” for many existing subscribers and “ship, plug and play” for new subscribers or those that need a new modem — no technician needed and none of that “between 8 AM and noon” scheduling that infuriates subscribers.
Installing an FTTdp Box on a Telephone Pole
Lantiq’s Vinax dp chipset goes in a small, palm-sized and leak-proof box that a telco can install in a neighborhood, even on a telephone pole. The installation time per box is only a few minutes. No electrical outlet is needed because the box is powered by subscribers’ modems/gateways.
The box with the FTTdp technology is weather resistant:
– It operates in a wide range of outdoor temperatures from -40 to +85 Centigrade.
– The box can be completely sealed from the weather because it does not need to be cooled — no fan is needed in the dp box.
The FTTdp technology is particularly suited for MDUs or complexes where multiple residences are close together. In MDUs, telcos won’t need to get the building owner’s permission to install new wiring because it can all be done outside the building.
Equipment makers Alcatel Lucent, ZTE, T&W, and Aethra Telecommunications have tested the technology and commercial dp boxes are currently available. With that crowd of equipment makers on-board, it’s almost certain that telcos are already placing orders for Lantiq’s FTTdp chipsets.
There’s a video about the product with Lantiq’s marketing manager for FTTdp Stefan Hirscher at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B0R6iqAz8g
We also have an in-depth translation that Hirscher did with a German publication that we’ll send to anyone that emails firstname.lastname@example.org and requests it.
Hirscher says in the interview, “Bandwidth demand will grow to 100 Mbps or more downstream by 2020. In some regions there are the statutory requirements. For example, data rates of 100 Mbps are supposed to be available to half of all EU households by 2020.
No one argues that fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is not the most future-proof broadband. However, it’s costly, messy and time-consuming to install — estimates are that telcos would have to spend billions of dollars to fully deploy all fiber networks. Its deployment also requires…
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