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Gigabit and More Wireless Surprising Close
Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:59

Stanford Professor Andrea Goldsmith believes wireless capacity can increase 50 times in the next 5 to 10 years. We'll soon have gigabits rather than the tens of megabits now typical. The cost of delivering each bit - or gigabyte - is dropping at a ferocious rate. Prices are staying high in most countries.

   Inability to sell the capacity coming online at the prices they want is far more of a problem for telcos than the wildly exaggerated spectrum "crisis." The result is a desperate effort to eliminate competitors around the world. It's easy to see price-fixing is the goal behind Sprint/T-Mobile, Bouygues/SFR, Telefonica/E-Plus, Softbank/eAccess, AT&T/Leap and the massive CEO support for ETNO's campaign to shrink the industry.

   Cell phone inventor Marty Cooper points out "we've never had a spectrum shortage." By and large, the "spectrum crisis" has been invented by politicians and lobbyists who pull politicians' strings. In all but  limited situations, there's plenty of bandwidth and spectrum.

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 April 2014 14:07
~$1,000/home Fiber at CenturyQwest
Wednesday, 12 March 2014 18:15

The Enola Gay was built in Omaha 45,000 homes passed in Nebraska. Randall Stephenson of AT&T last year claimed "fiber costs have come all the way down" and Stu Ewing of Century just confirmed a figure of about $1,000 in modestly dense areas. "In Omaha, where we have done fiber-to-the-home to about 45,000 homes and it costs us about $600 per home passed to do that in Omaha. When you enable a house, a home and get the drop and the ONU and the set-top boxes, it’s $1,000 to $1,200 per home." http://bit.ly/1frXuH1 Obviously, fiber costs can be much higher. But Verizon, Bell Aliant and now Century are reaching the majority of homes at a relatively modest cost.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 March 2014 23:00
Vectoring Goes Live After 10 Years
Thursday, 20 February 2014 17:52

Belgacom world's first commercial deployment. Thousands of homes are connected at a solid, reliable 70 megabits down in Belgium, Ten years ago John Cioffi and George Ginis wrote the paper that introduced vectoring and it's been a long wait. Customers previously getting 30 meg down are now receiving 70 meg.  The DSLAMs are Alcatel-Lucent with Broadcom chips inside. The DSLAM are true nodes, not simple Board Level Vectoring. 48 lines true System Level Vectoring capable to vectorized 192 lines. The new home boxes (BBox 3)  are from Sagemcom and Technicolor, with Broadcom chips for vectoring. It wasn't easy, but the previous home box (BBox 2) with Ikanos chips has been made "vector-friendly."

   "Many but not all the lines up to 200 meters are testing at 100 megabits. We chose to be conservative and cap speeds at 70 meg. So far, the vectored lines are proving highly stable, G.inp and Seamless Rate Adaptation are proving helpful." Everyone's talking about 100 megabits from vectoring so I asked Patrick whether they will upgrade. "As we accumulate data from the rollout, we hope for a future move to 100 meg service."

Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 14:03
France Telecom Wants Fiber to the Basement, Not All the Way Home
Saturday, 08 February 2014 16:49

ARCEP_FTTB Should France go gigabit or is 50-100 meg just fine. As part of the "incumbent takeover" spreading across Europe, France Telecom is fighting against government policy for full fiber home. Amidst pushback, ARCEP has called for a public consultation. (see below). Fiber home can deliver a reliable gigabit today, but Germany, Australia and England have decided the cheaper 50-100 megabits of DSL is all they will need for a decade and probably more. FT hopes to save a few hundred dollars per install, especially because they will draw power from the customers rather than the electric company. 

    Prettified with the name "fiber to the distribution point" (FTTdp), FT's plan uses puts a box in the basement and uses the copper to the apartment. They are already testing this in Poland with a box from Aethra, an Italian company using Lantiq VDSL chips. The Aethra box is single user, making vectored performance unlikely. There's no obvious way to connect the boxes for exchanging the information required for vectoring. As you can see from their release at bottom, they claim 200 megabits down although it looks like they are using VDSL2 chips normally considered 100 megabits. They did a demonstration at last year's BBWF of their box with 50 meters of direct wire. The speeds in the Youtube video were 227M down, 89M up http://bit.ly/1lrBz8g. Speeds in real world deployments will be lower. The boxes are a little clunky for now. I'm sure they (and their Lantiq partners) are working hard to reduce both size and cost. They need to get the cost well under $100 to be attractive for volume deployment.

   The Aethra box anticipates G.fast with "parasitic power." It draws power from the customer connection, eliminating the need for the carrier to connect mains power in the basement. The cost to the customer of that power is modest, perhaps $1-2/year. 

Last Updated on Monday, 10 February 2014 19:07
Broadcast Worried About G.Fast Interference
Sunday, 08 December 2013 13:01

Unproven problem but worrisome on real world copper. G.Fast achieves more bandwidth by using higher frequencies, overlapping the frequencies used in broadcast. The shielding on the cable is supposed to avoid problems, as is the provision in the G.Fast standard for "notches" to avoid using frequencies that cause interference. The "radio" division of ITU, which oversees broadcasting frequencies, was worried about problems and issued a report in April 2013. (below, from interference.org.uk). 

Last Updated on Sunday, 08 December 2013 14:50
Vectoring Costs from $300 (dense) to $1500 (Fiber to the Farm)
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 19:51

Vectoring costs from $300-$1500Lobbyist BREKO provides estimates. WIK, a respected consulting group, estimates that in the densest 5% of Germany (2750 lines per km ²) vectoring 2M homes would cost 430M euros, about USD 550 per home passed. The least dense 5% would cost 2 billion euro, or about $1,400/home passed. Based on what I've learned working on a network in Vermont, the later figure is low even if some are served with LTE. The last 1% can be brutally expensive to reach. I distrust lobbyist funded studies, but Karl-Heinz Neumann and Scott Marcus of WIK have earned my respect from prior work. 

Last Updated on Saturday, 11 January 2014 02:30
Hall of Fame for DSL Inventor Joseph Lechleider
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 19:18

Image from Lechleider's foundation patentJoe Lechleider at Bellcore invented DSL in the late 1980's, along with numerous colleagues going back to Claude Shannon. He's now been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame located at the U.S. Patent Office. The citation   

Joseph Lechleider was the first person to demonstrate the feasibility of sending broadband signals over copper. His work led to DSL and ADSL technology, turning the existing copper wire phone network into a high-speed broadband delivery instrument and allowing for transmission of data at equal or different rates in each direction.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 23:57
$200 for Fiber to the Basement in East Europe
Sunday, 06 April 2014 13:20

I didn't believe Rupert Wood's estimate but he has strong evidence. The going estimate for fiber to a typical neighborhood is $300-$500/unit, based on actual experience at DT, BT, AT&T and others. Analysys-Mason's Rupert Wood surprised me with the $200/unit estimate so I asked for details.

    This is an actual figure from several, not just one, Eastern European carriers, Rupert tells me. He shared enough details to convince me $200 corresponds to what these operators are seeing. Unfortunately, client confidentiality prohibits my publishing the specifics. 

Cisco: Africa in 2017 to Have More Internet Users than U.S.
Sunday, 02 March 2014 15:18

Size of Africa300,000,000 smartphones coming soon. Carlos Slim of Telmex tells me the world is about to change. “Two billion more people will connect to the Internet when smartphones cost $50. The phone makers are promising me a $50 phone in 2014.” If Spreadtrum and Firefox deliver a $25 smartphone, as promised, that could accelerate takeover.

   ~310,000,000 Africans will be connected to the Internet in 2017, Arielle Sumits of Cisco predicts. The population of the U.S. is about 310,000,000, Africa over a billion. It’s inevitable that the U.S. will be dwarfed by the rest of the world. In Africa, there are already about 450,000,000 mobile phone users with substantial growth continuing. Most of them will get Internet-capable phones in the next few years. 

    There are fewer than 10M broadband landlines on the continent, about one line per hundred people.

Last Updated on Sunday, 02 March 2014 18:23
Perlman's pCell Loaded with Hype But NY Times Calls 48 Megabits Over 100 Megabits of Spectrum Breakthru
Wednesday, 19 February 2014 08:29

Steve Perlman's pCell claims require a reality distortion field. Update: 2 professors confirm below.  Second Update. Met with Perlman and engineers. He has real engineers who did a slick trick using iPhones as LTE receivers. They may also have some neat tricks in MU MIMO and SON. Not close to their claims and most not new. Update 3: They don't give details about the software inside their server. It could be seriously interesting as improvements on how cells work together. Or it could be not.  More to come.  Original: Nick Wingfield in the Times believed a demo that could be reproduced on a cheap home WiFi router demonstrates a wireless breakthrough nyti.ms/1cZx3rS.  The Times showed 8 iPhones simultaneously playing HD video. Reporter Nick Wingfield wrote, "that would ordinarily bring a cellular network to its knees." Netflix streams at 5.5 mbps or less, so 8 streams is less than the 50 megabits even a modest cell site delivers, with 100-150 megabits becoming the standard rapidly. Within the space of a loft, speeds would be much higher. A 300 megabit router at Fry's this week costs $44.95 http://http://bit.ly/1ghadhU; Fry's is selling a gigabit router for $129.95 http://bit.ly/O9rWQM. Ericsson has demo'd 800 megabit LTE in a van driving around Stockholm. 48 megabits or even 400 megabits in a small space is not an advance.

    What Steve really has is a lot of hot air and what appears to be a prototype MU-MIMO system. If he has that production ready, that would be an important advance similar to work going on at all the major wireless vendors. That's similar to what Stanford researchers and many others have been working on for years. Literally in the last century, Stanford Professor AJ Paulraj described such systems. He predicted MIMO would one day produce a 1,000x and higher improvement in wireless speeds and that the theoretical limits could be 1,000,000x. Paulraj in 1993 invented MIMO, likely the heart of pCell.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 February 2014 20:50
FTTH Cost ~$1,000/home for Million Canadian Lines
Wednesday, 05 February 2014 09:35

Karen SheriffMerrill Lynch: "Right decision for the business." Eastern Canada's Bell Aliant intends to pass their millionth home with fiber by the end of 2014. The results in fiber areas are so much superior they are accelerating the build to 200,000 this year. This will cover 70% of the homes where they compete with cable. A few years ago, BA was being clobbered by Eastlink, an aggressive local cableco. They decided the only way to fight back was with fiber, even though majority owner Bell Canada wasn't doing the same.

   Glen Campbell of Merrill calculates they are spending $550-$600 per home, in line with Verizon's current costs for a similar build. Add the cost of connecting the homes and ~$1,000 is a reasonable estimate. Note that the next 30% of homes is predictably more expensive. Going from 70-90% wiould include maney homes that cost $2K to pass. The last 5-10% can cost $3,000-5,000 per, which is why even ambitious builds like Australia's don't intend to cover the last 5-10%.

   Kudos to Sheldon MacDonald and Karen Sheriff for demonstrating how efficiently fiber can be deployed. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 February 2014 11:01
300 Page G.fast Standardized, Supported by Deutsche Telekom
Sunday, 08 December 2013 12:44

Dudi Baum of Sckipio expects chips in 2014, gear in 2015. ITU-T Study Group 15 on Dec 6 approved a standard for G.fast. SG Chair Tom Starr writes

"The members of ITU-T Q4/15 worked 14 hours per day last week and the G.fast editor, Les Brown, worked 18 hours on most days to keep up with incorporating the material generated by the group. 

Last Updated on Monday, 09 December 2013 13:47
ASSIA Wins DSL Patent Case Against British Telecom
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 13:14

Automatically setting each subscriber profile. John Cioffi founded ASSIA because he saw ways to make DSL networks more reliable by dynamically adjusting the network based on regular testing of every line. Carriers serving over 65M lines of DSL believe the techniques work well enough to purchase ASSIA's software and service. BT hasn't bought ASSIA software and Mr Justice Birss found that BT's NGA broadband network system infringes EP (UK) 1,869,790 and that the patent is valid. ASSIA tells me they believe the patent is not "standards-essential" and royalties are not limited by "FRAND." That suggests the potential royalties ASSIA may win are substantial; the TI vs Ikanos/Globespan patent case resulted in an 8 figure settlement. 

   Reporting beyond that becomes subjective so I'll stop here although this is an important story for the industry. I'm on ASSIA's Advisory Board and have a conflict of interest. Here's BT's reply, the press releases with detail and the abstract of the patent itself. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:35
Dave on Why the U.S. Should not Delete Net Neutrality from WSIS
Wednesday, 20 November 2013 12:34

The U.S. wants neutrality out of the coming WSIS and I wrote to ITAC "The U.S. is not a credible defender of the open Internet if we keep making decisions like this." WSIS is the upcoming U.N. ITU World Summit on the Information Society, which is working on a statement. ITAC is a State Department Advisory committee that's open to all and I urge those interested to join. It's easy and you get most of the "secret" documents from the ITU in your email. Write daveb@dslprime.com and I'll connect you.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 November 2013 13:46
No One Buys Cable Caps at Time Warner
Thursday, 13 March 2014 15:35

MSlavik No DogFewer than 1 in 100 take 30 gig cap for $5 discount. CEO Rob Marcus reports only "thousands" of Time Warner's 11M customers are taking the discount after 6 months. He still supports the idea because he wants to charge heavier users more. "Notwithstanding the low uptake of usage-based tiers, I think it's a very important component of our overall pricing philosophy." Thanks to Jon Brodkin of Ars Technica for catching the comment and also finding a great picture. http://bit.ly/1i8rQmy Another interesting datapoint from Marcus was that only about 8% of data customers buy their own modem. His pr person was unhappy I included the modem rental in my previous articel on TWC http://bit.ly/1hfPIpR but I think that appropriate if more than 90% of customers rent.

    Marcus explained that Comcast deal was much more attractive than Charter because he had "significant concerns about the value of Charter stock" inspired me to look at the price of Charter stock. A market cap of $13B and debt of about $14B values the company at ~$6,000/subscriber. That's very hard to justify on any plausible earnings, even if John Malone is a financial magician and Tom Rutledge a strong operations manager. 

   My latest bill from Time Warner for regular cable modem service was $63/month, up about 40% in just a few years.



Last Updated on Friday, 14 March 2014 13:58
G.fast DSL has Momentum but G.hn Networking Wants Some Action
Monday, 24 February 2014 12:51

Upperside Conference ad

Production-ready G.hn/G.now silicon for fiber to the basement. The G.hn "home networking" folks are promising 200-400 megabit service 50 & 100 meters. They hope to steal some of the quickly mounting clamour for G.fast. (see pr at end) They are ready with high speed chips while real performance of G.fast chips remains speculative. This initiative, called G.now, shouldn't be surprising. The G.hn and powerline folk pioneered using frequencies to 100 MHz and 200 MHz, which is the heart of G.fast. Key G.fast engineers like Dudi Baum at Sckipio previously worked on powerline,

G.now's TDD architecture allows them to vary the split between upstream and down. Between both, speed "is 600 Mbps @ 50m, 500Mbps @ 100m, 350 Mbps @ 200m." They also promise bonding where the second line is available. That should almost double these speeds. They have Korea Telecom as a respected reference customer ready to begin. (Press releases below"

On the other hand, a senior engineer at a world-class telco writes me, "I do not foresee any service provider deploying a non-standard solution. For my point of view, it is not a threat at all for G.fast."

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:27
OFCOM: Vectoring and Unbundling Can Work Together
Tuesday, 11 February 2014 07:29

Practicalities not determined. The British regulator in an updated paper declares "there are two ways in which vectoring and SLU may work together." http://bit.ly/MfNLwI They add that BT has already begun a trial and may very soon roll out vectoring, as I previously reported http://bit.ly/ZAGM3w. BT now seems to be wavering on vectoring. In technical committees, they are fighting competitors because they don't want to cede control.

   In the interim, British cable competitor Virgin was bought up by Fries and Malone at LGI, who strongly believe in tacit cooperation and higher prices rather than winning away customers. In half the country, BT has a monopoly because there is no cable. So they have little pressure to upgrade. In practice, European telcos tend to spend money to upgrade only when they fear competitors taking customers.

    Incumbents love the idea that vectoring imust be a monopoly and have been pushing that hard. Competitors strongly disagree. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 February 2014 11:33
G.fast & FTTdp Get New Model from Lantiq
Wednesday, 29 January 2014 10:02
Actual line performance300 MHz signals behave differently from 30 MHz signals. Old models, such as the ETSI model for VDSL, do not accurately measure performance at higher frequencies. In the chart, there's a major difference from the theoretical curves predicted by older models and the actual performance measured by Deutsche Telekom. (The ragged plot of the actual measurements falls far below the smooth curves of the older models.)    

   Rainer Strobel of Lantiq,  Reinhard Stolle of Hochschule Augsburg and Wolfgang Utschick of Technische Universität München have built a new model that better fits the data. They write me "The industry is using a a cable model back from 1998, originally designed to describe cable properties for single line ADSL transmission. These models, adopted by ETSI and NIPP-NAI, served their purpose reasonably well for VDSL2  frequencies (<30MHz).    

   For the frequency range of interest for G.9701 (G.FAST), they are simply not accurate enough and don't reflect the physical coupling effects between pairs. For the purpose of developing G.FAST technology, we did require precise mathematical models of telecom cable binders up to 300MHz. These models have been developed and successfully verified against measurements of real world cables and did allow precise performance prediction and benchmarking of algorithms for G.FAST, that otherwise had never been possible with the 1998 versions."

    Alcatel's Stefaan van Hastel similarly observes, "the crosstalk behavior at these very high frequencies is very different than the behavior at the frequencies used by VDSL2. We're talking Vectoring 2.0. It's a significant change that needs to happen in vectoring" to work on the higher frequencies. http://bit.ly/1jokUEH He believes it will be years before the vectoring for G.fast is developed and it reaches maximum performance. 

    Everyone in the industry is waiting for actual results from production G.fast systems before coming to any conclusion on performance levels.

Last Updated on Sunday, 09 February 2014 20:18
Q3 China + 4.3M, U.S. +600K
Wednesday, 04 December 2013 22:57

China Telecom added 2.2M wireline broadband subscribers and China Unicom 1.7M to 64.4M. China Telecom at the end of October reached 98.75M subs and around Christmas will pass 100M. 20M of those are fiber, often to the basement rather than the apartment. Point-Topic believes there actually was a modest decline in DSL in favor of fiber, but the Chinese companies deliberately obscure those figures. LTE is coming on December 16, when China Mobile will turn on an LTE network that may be more than 100,000 cells, more than all the U.S. carriers combined. China Telecom has to match that quickly, so may be cutting wireline capex an amazing 50%. That would stop the fiber rollout. http://bit.ly/18jAuLg It may also just be posturing to encourage a government broadband subsidy. In any case, LTE data without wireline will begin to serve 5-25% of the broadband market who don't need high capacity. This will inevitably slow DSL & fiber, perhaps to virtually no growth in the U.S. and Western Europe in a few years. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 December 2013 23:54
First Look: Germany Puts Off Vectoring Another Six Months
Thursday, 21 November 2013 03:56

DT is having more problems than I knew. Deutsche Telekom is starting to build 12-24M lines of Vectored DSL, turning on 10 cities, But they aren't turning on full vectoring until second half of 2014. Belgacom is turning on vectoring in ?February, but throttling down the top speed to 70 megabits. Alcatel is still putting out press releases with how many "vector-ready" lines they have, but they clearly aren't ready.

    Deutsche Telekom had promised regulator Jochen Homann they would roll 100 meg in 2013. In return, he rushed through new rules they demanded. They'd be stupid to embarass Homan unless they had no choice because the system wasn't working. DT isn't stupid. 

    The software and probably the firmware on Alcatel's gear (and probably Adtran's) is not working right yet in the real world.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 November 2013 18:32
Cartels Emerging Worldwide in Broadband
Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:52

England, Australia seeing price rises as competition falls. Virgin Cable in the UK is raising prices 7% despite falling costs. I've previously reported that England has fallen to 3-4 major players and we're seeing now they are comfortable signalling each other to raise prices. They aren't nearly as high as the two player U.S. and Canada markets (few are) but the trend is unwelcome.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 November 2013 01:10
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