Broadband Speed to Jump 10-Fold

by Sean Michael Kerner

A new ITU standard sets the bar for ADSL at 100Mbps.

There was a time not so long ago when a T1 at 1.54 Mbps was enough bandwidth for almost anyone. Not anymore.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has just ratified the VDSL2 (Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line 2) standard, which is intended to reach downstream and upstream rates of up to 100Mbps.

The current top ADSL standard reaches speeds of 10Mbps, with many U.S.-based DSL carriers offering residential customers DSL speeds of 3Mbps to 5Mbps.

The ITU expects that VDSL2 will allow DSL operators to offer a "super triple play" of video, Internet and voice services that compete with services offered by satellite and cable operators. They include HDTV, VoIP and videoconferencing.

Beyond its blazing speed, the VDSL2 standard is supposed to be interoperable with existing carrier DSL equipment, with service delivery still based on the ubiquitous standard copper telephone cable.

"This new standard is set to become an extremely important feature of the telecommunications landscape, and is a landmark achievement for our members, many of whom are relying on this recommendation to take their businesses to the next level," said Yoichi Maeda, chairman of the ITU Telecommunications Standardization Sector, which is the study group responsible for the work.

According to a recent report by DSL Forum, a consortium of service providers and equipment manufacturers, there are now more than 100 million DSL subscribers worldwide.

In 2004 alone, 35.5 million new global DSL subscribers were added to carriers, 16 million of whom were based in North America.

The DSL Forum expects that with the new VDSL2 standard in tow, speeds of 25Mbps will become available to most consumers with 100Mbps available on short loops.

"With vendors' implementation of this new ITU-T Recommendation, service providers can offer even more high quality, advanced services using DSL technology," said Michael Brusca, chairman of the DSL Forum, in a statement. "It represents another essential element in the delivery of universal broadband access for multiple applications in every region of the world and demonstrates the continuing dynamic development of the technology."

Carriers appear to be jumping on the VDSL2 bandwagon already. Yesterday BellSouth announced that it would be using VDSL2 technologies to upgrade the systems that it has installed over the last decade.

This article was originally published on Thursday Jun 2nd 2005