Mark.JUK writes: Networking equipment manufacturer TP-Link are today claiming a "world's first" after they unveiled their new Talon AD7200 router, which uses the cutting edge 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard (Qualcomm Atheros chipset) in order to deliver Wireless LAN (WLAN) data speeds of up to 4,600 Megabits per second via the unlicensed 60GHz spectrum band. Mind you the limited range and problematic penetration of solid walls at 60GHz might make it less useful in some homes.
Previous trials have used significantly higher frequency bands (e.g. 20-80GHz), which struggle with coverage and penetration through physical objects. By comparison Huawei's network operates in the sub-6GHz frequency band and made use of several new technologies, such as Multi-User MIMO (concurrent connectivity of 24 user devices in the macro-cell environment), Sparse Code Multiple Access (SCMA) and Filtered OFDM (F-OFDM).
Assuming all goes well then Huawei hopes to begin a proper pilot in 2018, with interoperability testing being completed during 2019 and then a commercial launch to follow in 2020. But of course they're not the only team trying to develop a 5G solution.
Mark.JUK writes: Researchers at the University of California in San Diego have demonstrated a way of boosting transmissions over long distance fibre optic cables and removing crosstalk interference, which would mean no more need for expensive electronic regenerators (repeaters) to keep the signal stable. The result could be faster and cheaper networks, especially on long-distance international subsea cables.
The feat was achieved by employing a frequency comb, which acts a bit like a concert conductor; the person responsible for tuning multiple instruments in an orchestra to the same pitch at the beginning of a concert. The comb was used to synchronize the frequency variations of the different streams of optical information (optical carriers) and thus compensate in advance for the crosstalk interference, which could also then be removed.
As a result the team were able to boost the power of their transmission some 20 fold and push data over a “record-breaking” 12,000km (7,400 miles) long fibre optic cable. The data was still intact at the other end and all of this was achieved without using repeaters and by only needing standard amplifiers.
The PoWiFi system could in the future also be adapted to suck energy from different bands (e.g. 900MHz, 5GHz etc.) to further improve its capabilities, although doing so could create some interesting new legal questions and or pose some new security risks (e.g. a Power Denial-of-Service Attack).
The demo also made use of 2×2 Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (MIMO) links via single carrier Null Cyclic Prefix modulation and frame size of 100 micro seconds, although crucially no information about the distance of this demo transmission has been released and at 73GHz you'd need quite a dense network in order to overcome the problems of high frequency signal coverage and penetration.
The team, which forms part of the UK Government's 5G Innovation Centre, is supported by most of the country's major mobile operators as well as BT, Samsung, Fujitsu, Huawei, the BBC and various other big names in telecoms, media and mobile infrastructure. Apparently the plan is to take the technology outside of the lab for testing between 2016 and 2017, which would be followed by a public demo in early 2018.
In the meantime 5G solutions are still being developed, with most in the early experimental stages, by various different teams around the world. Few anticipate a commercial deployment happening before 2020 and we’re still a long way from even defining the necessary standard.
At present BT already covers most of the UK with hybrid Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) technology, which delivers download speeds of up to 80Mbps by running a fibre optic cable to a local street cabinet and then using VDSL2 over the remaining copper line from the cabinet to homes. G.fast follows a similar principal, but it brings the fibre optic cable even closer to homes (often by installing smaller remote nodes on telegraph poles) and uses more radio spectrum (17-106MHz) over a shorter remaining run of copper cable (ideally less than 250 metres).
The reliance upon copper cable means that the real-world speeds for some, such as those living furthest away from the remote nodes, will probably struggle to match up to BT’s claims. Never the less many telecoms operators see this as being a more cost effective approach to broadband than deploying a pure fibre optic / Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) network.
Mark.JUK writes: A new project called TWEETHER, which is funded by Europe's Horizon 2020 programme, has been setup at Lancaster University (England) with the goal of harnessing the millimetre wave (mmW) radio spectrum (specifically 92-95GHz) in order to deploy a new Point to Multipoint wireless broadband technology that could deliver peak capacity of up to 10Gbps (Gigabits per second). The technology will take 3 years to develop and is expected to help support future 5G based Mobile Broadband networks.
Mark.JUK writes: Samsung has successfully become the first to demonstrate a future 5G mobile network running at speeds of 7.5Gbps (Gigabits per second) in a stationary outdoor environment, but to cap that achievement off they also delivered 1.2Gbps while using the same technology and driving around a 4.3km long race track at speeds of up to 110Kph.
Crucially the test was run using the 28GHz radio spectrum band, which ordinarily wouldn't be much good for mobile networks where wide coverage and wall penetration is an important requirement. But Samsung claims it can mitigate at least some of that by harnessing the latest Hybrid Adaptive Array Technology (HAAT), which uses millimeter wave frequency bands to enable the use of higher frequencies over greater distances.
Several companies are competing to develop the first 5G technologies, although consumers aren't expected to see related services until 2020 at the earliest.
Mark.JUK writes: The United Kingdom's national telecoms operator, BT, has teamed up with Chinese IT firm Huawei to push data speeds of 3Tbps (Terabits per second) over an existing real-world 359km long fibre optic link by harnessing a "record spectral efficiency" of 5.97bit/s/Hz and commercial grade hardware and software.
The real-time 3Tbps super channel comprised of 15 x 200Gbps (16-QAM) sub channels, bundled together to provide combined capacity, and these were separated by as little as 33.5GHz in order to achieve the claimed spectral efficiency. In the future such connections could help to feed the ever rising capacity demands of mobile operators and ISPs, which are themselves attempting to cater for growing consumer broadband usage and ideally without having to build expensive new fibre optic links.
Professor Leif Oxenløwe of DTU Fotonik said that his team had "used all the known, neat tricks that exist nowadays to make data in five dimensions: time, frequency, polarization, quadrature and space”. However one such "neat trick" is the decision not to use a traditional single core cable and to instead adopt a 7 core (glass threads) design from Japanese telecoms firm NNT.
Admittedly the new fibre optic cable does not take up any more space than the standard single-core version, but it's still a new cable and thus perhaps the "world record" claims aren't quite comparing apples to apples.
G.fast is a hybrid-fibre technology, which is designed to deliver Internet speeds of up to 1000Mbps over shorter runs of copper cable (up to around 250 meters via 106MHz+ of radio spectrum). The idea is that a fibre optic cable is taken closer to homes and then G.fast works to deliver the last few metres of service, which saves money because the operator doesn't have to big up your garden to lay new cables.
By comparison XG-FAST works in a similar way but via an even shorter run of copper and using frequencies of up to 500MHz. For example, XG-FAST delivered its top speed of 10,000Mbps by bonding two copper lines together over just 30 metres of cable. But this might be a problem for commercial operators, which will want to maximise profits by using more copper to reach more homes and not less.
Mark.JUK writes: Cable Europe, the official trade association for cable telecoms and TV operators across the continent, has published a new study with cable ISP NL Kabel that claims to predict that consumers will be demanding average broadband download speeds of 165Mbps (Megabits per second), with uploads of 20Mbps, by the year 2020. At an extreme around 2% of all users are also predicted to demand 1000Mbps (1 Gigabit per second).
The research is based off a "quantitative model", which was designed by a team working out of the Technical University of Eindhoven and Dialogic to predict demand for Internet speeds in the coming years. But equally some might view it as a piece of self-serving research by those parties with an interest in cable and one that conflicts with other studies. What a person "needs" remains very much subjective, balanced against how they use the technology and their expectations.
According to Professor Ellis of Aston's Institute for Photonic Technologies, related signals "have been amplified to such an extent that they are now more intense than sunlight at the surface of the Earth’s atmosphere" and this causes the distortion. But PEACE intends to tackle this by using a balance of digital, analogue electronic and optical processing to halve the energy consumption of optical transponders and boost bandwidth.
"We will increase network capacity by maximising spectral use, and developing techniques to combat the nonlinear effects induced by the high intensities encountered in today’s networks," said Professor Ellis.