Copper wires aren't exactly the fastest form of connectivity for service providers, but the challenge is the simple fact that copper is widely deployed. In an announcement made today in Paris, France, Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs claimed that it has reached a new record speed of 10 Gigabits per second over plain old copper telephone wires.
The new innovation is important in that it could enable service providers to offers faster broadband speeds to customers, even when it's not possible or economically feasible to deploy some form of fiber optic cable to the home.
The specific technology that Alcatel-Lucent is using to enable the super-fast copper access is known as XG-FAST. XG-FAST is not entirely new. It's an additional set of capabilities extending the G.fast technology, which could potentially deliver up to 500 Mbps of connectivity for distances of up to 100 meters.
The XG-FAST approach uses an increased frequency and only gets the faster speeds at shorter distances. XG-FAST enables 1 Gbps over 70 meters and 10 Gbps over 30 meters.
"Our constant aim is to push the limits of what is possible to 'invent the future,' with breakthroughs that are 10 times better than are possible today," Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs, said in a statement. "Our demonstration of 10 Gbps over copper is a prime example: By pushing broadband technology to its limits, operators can determine how they could deliver gigabit services over their existing networks, ensuring the availability of ultra-broadband access as widely and as economically as possible."
Alcatel-Lucent and Bell Labs have a history of constantly accelerating the possible broadband speeds of copper. Back in September of 2011, Alcatel-Lucent announced the VDSL2 Vectoring technology, which can enable copper to deliver broadband speeds of 100 megabits per second.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.