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Copper Wire As Fast As Fiber? 239

Krishna Dagli writes to tell us that a new consortium of hardware vendors and phone companies have banded together in order to try for fiber optic speeds over copper wiring. From the article: "To avoid interference, current DSL implementations use static spectrum management that is built for a 'worst-case' scenario. Most actual phone lines would allow for far better performance, and DSM technology will allow each DSL connection to be regulated in real time by the hardware based on measured crosstalk and on current data needs of each customer. The end result could be DSL connections that top out at 100Mbps or more."
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Copper Wire As Fast As Fiber?

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  • by viking099 ( 70446 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @01:56PM (#16397517)
    But when will it hit my doorstep at a reasonable rate?

    All this talk of speedy internet access is great, but I'm still not seeing much benefit when it comes to what my ISP offers.
    • by JonTurner ( 178845 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:03PM (#16397651) Journal
      So, in other words there's a technology to make existing infrastructure MUCH more efficient. Don't hold your breath waiting for it. DSL is owned by whom? The monopoly telephone companies, and with the recent court rulings that say they don't HAVE to sublease it is not likely there will be 1:1 competition in the near future. My guess is that the phone companies will see this as an excuse to raise prices, due to perceived value*, rather than to provide improved performance that competes with cable at a similar, or lower price.

      *Just as CDs cost less to manufacture than cassette tapes, but until recently sold for more $$, such as it will be with "extreme DSL" (or whatever they call this service).
      • Around my neck of the woods, Qwest had abominable service and outrageous prices... until ComCast stepped in, wired up the entire city, and started kicking their trash. Within a year and a half, Qwest's prices were less than half what they were before ComCast's big move.
      • So, in other words there's a technology to make existing infrastructure MUCH more efficient.
        So when do we get our money back that was to be used as capital for fiber outlay?

        Just curious, since as recent as this spring I remember the fiber funding issue rearing its ugly head yet again...
      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )
        So, in other words there's a technology to make existing infrastructure MUCH more efficient. Don't hold your breath waiting for it.

        http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=179988&cid=149 03886 [slashdot.org]
    • by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:04PM (#16397667)
      We had a new second telephone company come to town to compete with Verizon / Adelphia. They started pulling their own fiber (this was a year before Verizon announced FIOS. Of course Verizon still hasn't announced FIOS for our town.)

      The freakin PINHEADS only offer 1Mb or 2Mb internet - via FIBER. Heck, DSL in this area is as fast or faster.

      DSL technology already exists that can offer higher speeds over longer distances than Verizon (and most other ILECs) currently support, but verizon (and other ILECs) just won't deploy it. Instead, they continue to install obsolete technology.

      • Even if the fiber that's being taken out to your curb can take 100Mb/s, if they don't think there's a market for it, they probably aren't buying the backhaul capacity to provide that level of service.

        In other words, they might be able to get you hooked up at 100Mb/s, but you'd only be able to talk to your neighbors and other people on the local subnet at that speed.

        This is a real problem for almost all broadband ISPs, because they're just not buying the capacity from their Tier 1 ISP that they should be, in order to offer even the speeds that they're advertising to people. "Real" internet connections -- and by that I mean ones to upper-tier ISPs with bandwidth and QoS and uptime guarantees -- are not cheap, and thus they get skimped on.
        • by russ1337 ( 938915 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:26PM (#16398091)
          >> In other words, they might be able to get you hooked up at 100Mb/s, but you'd only be able to talk to your neighbors and other people on the local subnet at that speed.

          As long as a neighbour has seeded the torrent you're after, it'll be freakin awesome!
          • by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@[ ]y.net ['xox' in gap]> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @03:40PM (#16399307) Homepage Journal
            Actually in some other discussions I've said that I think this could be really beneficial -- with systems like BitTorrent, and to a lesser extent Skype and other P2P systems, it's conceivable that a big broadband provider could configure its network so that a lot of "bulk" traffic was kept on its own wires, and didn't have to traverse the public net.

            For example, if they provided a Skype supernode that all the broadband users could connect to, whenever one of the customers wanted to call another, the routing could all be done without having to send packets through a peering/transit point. It would all be on the ISPs network, which costs them basically nothing.

            You can make similar arguments for positioning cache servers for other types of stuff on the network. Were it not for the copyright concerns, they could probably save themselves a lot of customer aggravation and bandwidth expense, if they just did some intelligent caching of bittorrent traffic. (And it's my understanding this is the whole theory behind the Cache Discovery Protocol [torrentfreak.com], but I'm not sure which ISPs are going to use it.)

            The place where I think this could have the biggest effects, would be in places that have large networks that are basically isolated from the public net by narrow connections -- say, Australia. A system of intelligent caching and encouraging the use of P2P applications would probably lighten the load on the traffic actually passing in and out of a "network island" by favoring internal connections instead.

            So a broadband ISP that let you connect to your neighbor at 100Mb/s but only pass packets out to the public 'net at 1Mb, might at some point in the future, if it was designed correctly, seem like a really sweet deal.
        • if they don't think there's a market for it, they probably aren't buying the backhaul capacity to provide that level of service.

          What's the lead time/quantum for backhaul orders? Are you implying that if not enough of a market for e.g. 100Mbit service materializes, all that backhaul would rot at the warehouse? I doubt it, since they could easily control the ramp-up of faster services and therefore schedule backhaul purchase in a way that limits their exposure.

          I find it much more likely that they simply

    • by vought ( 160908 )
      All this talk of speedy internet access is great, but I'm still not seeing much benefit when it comes to what my ISP offers.


      Exactly. Here in Baton Rouge, BellSouth/SBC has no incentive to upgrade their piss-poor network. Here's an example of how poor the situation in our market is:

      -Our cable goes down more often than a high-priced hooker. Since moving here in early September, we've had four outages of 3+ hours.
      -Our Cox cable service fluctuates
      -Our condo is 25 years old. The phone post outside the building s
      • by MCraigW ( 110179 )
        Our cable goes down more often than a high-priced hooker.

        Should that be a "cheap hooker?"

  • Poor topic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cheezus_es_lard ( 557559 ) <cheez17@gm a i l . com> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @01:57PM (#16397551) Homepage
    Copper Wire as Fast as Fiber? What a misleading topic. How about 'Copper Outside Plant can rival current FTTH speeds,' as this is much less inflammatory and more on target with what is intended to be said. With such a general topic there's no telling what the story is actually about, and in this case, it's not any of the following:

    -Copper Outside Plant transmits data at OC-192 speeds
    -Lab makes Copper transmit OC-48 speeds
    -Copper Wire discovered to have same frequency versatility of fiber
    -Police Cables allow bacon to move at speed of light

    Sheesh.

    love and peace
    -cheez
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      It could have been about eating a bowl of copper wires over milk instead of bran flakes.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:35PM (#16398227)
      ...in a Jimmy Cagney voice: "Nyah! You'll never catch me, copper!"
    • The thing that leaps to my mind is: Why?

      With copper prices skyrocketing, and fiber prices dropping, why would anyone be pushing for this tech? Push for better compression and transmission throughput on fiber and accelerate the replacement of obsolete copper line. Sure it's more costly than a pie-in-the-sky maybe-we'll-never-have-to-upgrade solution, but it's realistic, and it's doable.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vought ( 160908 )
        With copper prices skyrocketing, and fiber prices dropping, why would anyone be pushing for this tech?

        Here are a few pithy reasons I can think of:

        -There's a lot of copper wire in the ground already. Copper serves nearly every home and business in the U.S.
        -Replacing or supplementing the copper with fiber costs a lot more money than upgrading the switches on the existing copper line.

        Sure, fiber makes more sense for new installations, but if you live where I do, new construction amounts to something very clos
      • by arth1 ( 260657 )
        Copper has its advantages:

        - Despite a common misconception of the opposite, the speed of electric fields through copper is faster than light through fiber.
            (~0.95 c for copper, ~0.65 c for fiber)
        - There's less need for signal boosters and repeaters
        - It's much easier to splice copper than fiber

        Regards,
        --
        *Art
    • "-Police Cables allow bacon to move at speed of light"

      If you can find a copper or optical cable that will move chocolate from one end of a cable to the next, we can implement Willy Wonka's dream.
  • by Bryansix ( 761547 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @01:58PM (#16397565) Homepage
    it is hard enough getting ISP's (in this case those dirty theiving telco's) to pony up the actual bandwith advertised on a simple 1.5Mbps DSL line. I might be able to get 100Mbps to the DSL suboffice but I seriously doubt that ISP's would be willing to pay for the connection further down the line to actually provide that kind of speed to anything outside their local network. ISP's tend to oversell bandwith and hope for the best.
    • So far, I've never had a problem getting full rate from DSL or cable. Neither have any of my friends except one: They live in a neighborhood crammed with about a thousand tiny homes on 0.05 acre lots, with many of them doing huge bittorrents all day. It's a pretty worst-case scenario.

      I would personally trade my current 6mbps/768kbps line for even a 1.5mbit line if it were symmetric. When rsync finds 8 gigs of new non-comrpessible data to upload to my off-site backup, 768k just doesn't cut it.
      • I would personally trade my current 6mbps/768kbps line for even a 1.5mbit line if it were symmetric. When rsync finds 8 gigs of new non-comrpessible data to upload to my off-site backup, 768k just doesn't cut it.

        1.5mbit is that much better?

        I think you need your head examined. :)

        • I would personally trade my current 6mbps/768kbps line for even a 1.5mbit line if it were symmetric. When rsync finds 8 gigs of new non-comrpessible data to upload to my off-site backup, 768k just doesn't cut it.

          1.5mbit is that much better?

          I think you need your head examined. :)


          Roughly x2. Which means his 8 gig upload will take 5.5h and not 12h. A significant savings.
        • It's twice as good, so it's worth it. Don't get me wrong, a 45mbit T3 would be nice, but doubling what I have now would still be a significant improvement.
          • Oh sure, when you talk about it *that* way...

            I was concentrating on the download speed and had totally missed (guess MY head needs examined!) you were talking about upload speeds. hehehe
      • by alienw ( 585907 )
        Well, you've just gotten lucky. DSL lines are oversold more than 10 to 1. As in, a DSLAM with 300 ADSL ports might only have a single T3 going to it -- or worse. That's the real reason why ISPs don't like BitTorrent, Vonage, web servers, and other bandwidth-intensive things on residential connections.
    • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:51PM (#16398489)
      When I first got a cable connection, in late 1997, the modem was $300, the installation fee was $150 or so, and the monthly fee was $50. I had a static IP address and the only limitation on my bandwidth up and down was the local application or remote server's ability to feed the data into the 'net, so far as I could tell.

      Then some of my neighbors starting getting a cable modem...

      Now it's all different. But the interesting point is that the cable modem is about 1/3 the price, there is usually no installation fee, and the monthly fee is still $50, despite 10 years of inflation. DSL is typically even less. In other words, the main development in broadband over the past 10 years has been a fall in the real price and a lot more people using it. (I'd say, personally, it's also a bit more reliable -- in '97 the cable net connection would flake out for an hour or so every few days. Now it almost never does. But that's just one operator, YMMV.)

      Had we wanted, instead, faster and better service at the same real price (e.g. $75/month in 2006 dollars), then maybe we'd have got that. But that is apparently not what our buying habits told the cable and DSL operators we wanted.
      • trouble is at least here in the uk nearly all the broadband providers are in the buisness of lieing

        they advertise unlimited bandwidth, the price structure of bt wholesale and of the upstream ISPs means that they can't really deliver it.

        but telling by how much each of them will actually let you have or what tricks they will use to keep bandwidth use down without caps is very very difficult.

        so most people just give up and go for an "unlimited" deal with a high headline speed at a low price.
        • nearly all the broadband providers are in the buisness of lieing

          Well...nearly all human beings are in the business of lying, in the sense of stretching the truth to our advantage as far as humanly possible, and then some.

          Perhaps someday, when all women are really less than or equal to the weight they write down on their online dating ads, and all men really do call when they say they will, and all children really have done their homework when they say they have but the dog ate it, then the ratfink ISPs -- w
  • I thought the signal traveled at roughly the same velocity over copper as over fiber optic cable. Is there really enough of a difference to matter?
    • Well, it's all depending on your sense of scale.

      The propagation velocity of an electrical charge down a conductive wire is a significant fraction of the speed of light. In most cases, this might as well be the speed of light, because it's so much faster than anything else that we do, or work with. (The current doesn't actually flow at the speed of light, because not all the electrons are moving in a straight line down the wire. So even though the electrons are moving at the speed of light, the net velocity
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by thebdj ( 768618 )
        One thing I will add to the parent post that should be considered is noise and interference. Electrical signals are more susceptible to noise and interference. This is probably the biggest advantage fiber has over electrical transmission. I actually believe many of the other "advatanges" of fiber are in some way linked to this advantage.
        • Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation (or, an elctric signal). They are all susceptible to noise and interference, it's just that the sources are different. For example, multipath propagation for wireless signals (i.e. your cellphone signal bouncing off different buildings and multiple "copies" of the signal arriving at the cell tower at slightly different times) is similar to refraction [wikipedia.org] in a fiber cable due to imperfect manufacturing causing the signal to "split" and interfere with itself. Recept

      • by Jimmy_B ( 129296 )

        The current doesn't actually flow at the speed of light, because not all the electrons are moving in a straight line down the wire. So even though the electrons are moving at the speed of light, the net velocity of the charge is some fraction thereof.

        This is a common misconception. The electrons are NOT moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light, in fact they barely move at all. What travels at around 0.3c is the electric potential. When you apply a potential (add electrons to) to your end of th

      • by x2A ( 858210 )
        This isn't really true. Electrons, having mass, cannot reach the speed of light, even if they travel in a straight line, which through a wire they don't, so current actually moves rather slowly. However the actual signal is carried by an electromagnetic field, which is the force that causes the negatively charged electrons to move. This field is carried by photons, massless packets of energy, that travel at the speed of light (light = photons, so speed of photons = speed of light) if left to travel in a str
      • Speed of light isn't constant. YA RLY. It is the fastest in a vacuum (c is the speed of list in a vacuum) and slower in other materials. To figure out the speed just take the refractive index of the material times c. So the speed it moves at depends on the material the fibre is made out of.
      • How does the "actual speed of the electrons" affect data rate (i.e. bandwidth)? It affects time delay obviously but you have to take into account other properties of the medium.

        Let's get an idea of what we're talking about here - the distance from LA to New York City is approximately 3940km. Light travels at approximately 3x10^5km/s. This means that if light travels in a straight line that distance, it will reach NYC in about 13ms. There a reference [wikipedia.org] that says that light travels down an optical fiber a

      • by alienw ( 585907 )
        Uh, no. The "speed of light" is speed of light in vacuum. The speed of light in a glass fiber is much, much slower -- pretty close to the speed of an electromagnetic wave in a copper conductor. In addition, since the light reflects from the sides of the fiber at an angle, the actual path length is much larger than the length of the fiber cable. This means wave propagation in fiber is actually slower than in a copper pair.
    • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <DStaal@usa.net> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:11PM (#16397805)
      It's the width of the tubes that matter, since the current is all the same speed inside them. ;)
      • Current? Don't you mean internets?
        • No he doesn't, everybody knows the current in the internet is composed of interelecrons. One the other side, the intranet, the currents is carried by intrapositrons; the interelecrons and intrapositrons are anti-particals so you gotta keep'em seperate with a firewall.
    • by Ahnteis ( 746045 )
      That more closely describes latency, not bandwidth. I guess "Fast" may be a bit misleading, but we're talking about time to move a certain amount of data so "fast" works well enough.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dorfmann ( 1010467 )
      You see, the internet is like a stream in the woods.

      Water in the Amazon river and a stream may travel at the same speed, but the Amazon moves a heck of a lot more water in a given period of time than the stream. This difference is analogous to bandwidth. Electrical signals and light signals both travel at essentially the same speed (though I believe there is actually a small difference in the real world), but fiber can carry a lot more data than copper.
      • You see, the internet is like a stream in the woods.

        Water in the Amazon river and a stream may travel at the same speed, but the Amazon moves a heck of a lot more water in a given period of time than the stream.

        Which is why Amazon.com can move such a vast amount of books and other products.

        Sorry...

    • by tygt ( 792974 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:15PM (#16397893)
      From http://www.copper.org/copperhome/HomePlan/puffs_sm oke_pulse_electrons.html [copper.org], which is the copper trade group and hopefully reasonbly accurate and not overly optimistic, I find:

      Such waves would travel at the speed of light except that they are slowed down slightly by the effects of the insulating material surrounding the wire. Speeds of one-third to more than one-half the speed of light are typical.

      OTOH, http://www.itarchitect.com/article/NMG20010416S000 6 [itarchitect.com] states:

      In more ordinary media, such as certain commercial single-mode optical fiber products, the propagation velocity of a signal is 68 percent of c or 205,000km/s ... In comparison, electric waves or signals in commonly used copper wire travel at speeds between 55 percent and 80 percent of c.

      So don't take it for granted that just because an electric signal doesn't travel at c in copper that it's slower than light in fiber!

      On a barely-related tangent: As someone who put up with a satellite internet connection for 4 years, I can state authoratatively that the speed of light isn't nearly quick enough for a variety of purposes....

    • I'm no expert, but I was of the impression that it wasn't the actual speed of the signal, but the... well, the bandwidth. Something like, only so much information can be carried at a given frequency, and the big issue between fiber and copper was how wide a variation in frequency can they transmit without difficulties, and how much information those frequencies can carry.

      I'm not trying to sound smart here, because i don't really know what I'm talking about. But I think your on the wrong track.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoralHazard ( 447833 )
      "Fast" can refer to either bandwidth (how much data the pipe carries at one time), or latency (the delay between when a signal is sent and when it is received). Here, they're talking about bandwidth.

      But as other have pointed out, the summary is QUITE misleading. Copper wire of a given spec (length, guage, etc.) has a maximum theoretical bandwidth. The actual bandwidth we get out of it depends on the aim and sophistication of the signaling mechanism. My 3.0 MBps DSL line uses the exact same copper pair o
  • It's not likely we'll see this very soon. As soon as Ma Bell gets their hands on this, they'll blunder it as usual and blame everyone else for their problems... If they are successful, you can bet that you'll get high download speeds, but will be locked up with that lovely 256k uplink. Oh, you want more? That's a 'business line', you get to pay triple!
  • Sailing effect (Score:5, Interesting)

    by telepilot ( 923790 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:00PM (#16397605)
    By increasing the capacity of copper to (best case) 100Mps they are only prolonging the inevitable. Fiberoptics has an upper limit that is immensely higher...
    • Re:Sailing effect (Score:5, Informative)

      by moderators_are_w*nke ( 571920 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:12PM (#16397843) Journal
      This story has been annoying me all day. Fibre does indeed have a much greater upper limit, so this whole story is complete fud. The following is a direct quote from Professor Andrew Tanenbaum (and he knows stuff) from his book 'Computer Networks' (3rd Edition, Prentice-Hall 1996):

      "With current fibre technilogy, the achievable bandwidth is in excess of 50, 000 Gbps (50Tbps) and many people are looking very hard for better materials. The current practical limit of about 1Gbps is due to our inability to convert between electrical and optical signals any faster."

      This was written in 1996. We've come a long way since then. Copper is simply not in the game.
      • by Manchot ( 847225 )
        Exactly. Data transfer rates depend on how fast you can modulate your signal, which in turn must be slower than your carrier frequency. Using fiber optics, you can transmit a signal with a carrier frequency of about 0.5 PHz (the frequency of red light). Now, to transmit even a 50 GHz signal across copper wiring requires very expensive cable: upwards of a few grand per meter. Thus, with fiber optics, the only problem becomes how fast you can modulate your optical signal electrically, and how fast you can det
      • Yeah, and we'll plug that 50 Tbps fiber into our optical quantum computer.

        Let's face it, you have to convert to/from copper eventually; fiber is only good for modulating multiple carriers and going long distances. No single channel is going to pass any more than 10Gbps because there isn't an IC out there now or five years from now that can do anything with it.

      • Fibre does indeed have a much greater upper limit, so this whole story is complete fud.

        What's more, it's a stupid thing to even be caring about. Why do we use fibre, really? It's much more expensive than copper... over short runs.

        We use fibre because (a) it can cover vastly more distance than copper, (b) it is less sensitive to interference (not a big deal with 100Mbit over copper, but a major problem with 1GBit or faster over copper at long distances), and (c) it does not have nasty ground potential proble

    • Yes but they are getting 100Mbs of Cat-3 copper, the is a lot of cat-3 copper in a lot of walls, think of all that 2B2 crap that suddenly useable for comuter networks instead of having to pull cat-5e, might our cat 5e be capable of 1Gbs? Holy cow what might fit through a cat 6 cable
  • Unfortunately, my phone line doesn't even manage the 8Mbps my connection is nominally rated at; I'm lucky to get as high as 3. According to BT's availability checker, my postcode should get about 4Mbps. A few minutes spent typing in random postcodes in London only found a couple that got as high as even 6Mbps, let alone the full 8 that most ISPs offer.

    100Mbps? Not in the UK, not over our phone lines.
    • The problem in the US is the fact the a large percentage of copper is in bad shape. I have seen cases where as much as 50% of a bundle is worthless it's so badly damaged. Yet the phone companies won't replace it as it's not profitable enough in a city. Heck my company is on it's own bundle as the rest of the bundle has failed so completely. We found this out when we lost only phone lines for 30 hours, only to find out a tech disconnected the rest of the bundle as he figured no one else was on it. We le
  • I'd love it if this were used to increase the distance limit on DSL. Right now, I'm "too far" from the CO and the phone company won't even talk to me about DSL.
  • The article title "Copper wire as fast as fiber?" is blatantly wrong. Flashy to make a better, more controversial headline.

    The article title implies that a copper wire can have more bandwidth than a fiber. Read on:
    He points out that a bundle of 50 Cat 3 twisted-pair wires (the kind that might be used in the last segment of the phone network) has 10Gbps of available bandwidth to distribute to the fifty homes at the end of those wires. By contrast, fiber to the home has only 2.5Gbps to distribute to its homes.


    See the switch in argument? From "copper > fiber" in the title (and other locations within the article to boot) to "copper*50 > fiber*1". I'm sure if I bundle 10,000,000 twisted pairs then I can out-bandwidth a single fiber any day, but does that mean I should say copper is faster than fiber?

    It's like titling my article "3.5 inch floppies hold more than a hard drive?" but then say if I combine 2 billion floppies in parallel then I get 3 TB of storage where as a single hard drive only holds 700 GB.

    Apples and oranges.

    That said, I think the article is trying to point out that the existing copper can be better utilized and achieve higher bandwidth than if a new, single fiber were trenched in its place. I see little controversy in this. But this does not mean "copper > fiber".

    I have to admit that this is probably one of the most confusing and poorly written Ars article I've ever read.
    • I'm sure if I bundle 10,000,000 twisted pairs then I can out-bandwidth a single fiber any day, but does that mean I should say copper is faster than fiber?

      Well, that depends. Do you get paid by the page view?

  • You straighten your tie, clear your throat, and jangle your keys as you step into your CEO's office, wearing a nervous look on your face.

    "Boss," you begin, "about that $10 billion we just spent on FTTH? Well, turns out our competitors are sticking with copper wiring and DSM ... and its potential bandwidth is 100 MBps per customer." Then you point and laugh. "Just kidding! DSM is unreliable, theoretical vaporware! Hah hah! Eh, boss? BOSS? WTF OMFG somebody dial 911!!!"
  • Seriously. They've earned enough money from their ancient unshielded untwisted copper pairs of wires. I want something better than DSL, and there are many alternatives.

    I am perfectly happy with my Comcast cable Internet (in spite of the 300-500kbps tx speed limit). Fiber would be ideal, but why dig holes, and block up the roads, hire union workers -- it's much ideal to use something like free-space optics [wikipedia.org], WiFi, and even fucking tin cans tied together with yarn made from old cat hair than to choose to han
  • Very *slow* fiber maybe... and my line will barely do current dsl speeds, so I'm not holding my breath...
  • Couple of concerns (Score:4, Insightful)

    by brendanoconnor ( 584099 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:13PM (#16397855)
    I have a couple of concerns with the direction this article takes.

    1. To say that any money spent on FTTH is money wasted due to the potential of this completely untested technology is really unfair to say the least. At this point we do not know if the new tech will even provide results. Also, there are many places that really do have terrible copper, especially in the consumer markets. Many old homes and apartments have copper that cannot even use current DSL, let alone attempting to use an even more intensive signal.

    2. At the beginning of the article the person paints a picture of a guy going to his boss to tell them that we may have made a mistake in going with this FTTH idea. This is about the dumbest thing this person could do because a) The decision is made and cannot be undone and b) if the boss is not putting pressure on you do not bring up things that you cannot do anything about which will get your ass in trouble. It is never a good idea.

    I can see where the person is coming from. We should be honest and come forth and say we should do this, even though we initially thought we should of done and did do that. Unfortunately our corporate climate has never been overly friendly to brute honesty. The last thing you want to do is stand up in a loud voice admitting guilt to the problem. It is like saying, "Well I ment to get it done, but x, y, and z happened." Sorry but ment to and what actually happened are two entirely different problems. Now your SOL.

    Brendan
  • My own test (Score:5, Funny)

    by k4_pacific ( 736911 ) <k4_pacific@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:14PM (#16397877) Homepage Journal
    I did my own test to see if copper wire was a fast as fiber.

    Day One
    Ate a bowl of fiber. Bowel movement within two hours. Pretty fast.

    Day Two
    Ate a bowl of copper wire. Severe internal bleeding.

    Ultimately, results were inconclusive as the emergency surgery on day two negated any possible effects of the copper wire.
  • by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:14PM (#16397879)
    A physical limitation to any transmission medium is the propagation delay from one point to another. Sure, you may get the same unidirectional transfer rate with copper compared to wire (which I doubt considering the possible frequencies involved), but bi-directional communication will be hampered by the propagation delay, in which fiber obviously has the upper hand. There are other issues regarding the resistance of the medium, forcing you to add repeaters periodically, but I digress for now.

    Note: electrical signals do *not* propagate at the speed of light through copper.
    • Note: electrical signals do *not* propagate at the speed of light through copper.
      i will assume by "speed of light" you mean "speed of light in a vacum" aka "c"

      neither optical fiber or copper cable propogates at anything like "c", not sure of the actual figures but i think fiber is actually slightly slower in propogation.

      however on short links with both fiber and copper the delays in other places will swamp the delays in the cable itself.
  • To avoid interference, current DSL implementations use static spectrum management that is built for a "worst-case" scenario. [...] and DSM technology will allow each DSL connection to be regulated in real time by the [...] data needs of each customer. The end result could be DSL connections that top out at 100Mbps or more ...but are down most of the time, and are slower than advertised most of the rest of the time.
  • Nice, but .... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by swarsron ( 612788 )
    ... here we can get 16 mbit dsl for ~60 euro together with a telefon flatrate. But it's of little use since your upload is 1 mbit. You can't really use your big pipe since most servers won't give out data that fast. And distributed networks which could saturate this pipe won't work because one is not able to feed back that fast and so you're stuck on 1-2 mbit down (e.g. bittorrent).

    So it's great that they're testing new technologies but the real bottleneck isn't bandwith to the costumer but their ability to
  • by mr_stinky_britches ( 926212 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:28PM (#16398129) Homepage Journal

    More bandwidth than fiber? ..He points out that a bundle of 50 Cat 3 twisted-pair wires (the kind that might be used in the last segment of the phone network) has 10Gbps of available bandwidth to distribute to the fifty homes at the end of those wires. By contrast, fiber to the home has only 2.5Gbps to distribute to its homes.

    Okay, this comparison seems rather slippery upon first glance. Let's break it down so we are clear on what they are attempting to communicate to us:

    • 50 Cat-3 twisted-pair wires have an aggregate bandwidth of 10Gbps to distribute to the 50 homes, so that's really 0.5Gbps per home, apparently over cat3 cabling (cat3 sees like a plausible claim for what telcos would use for a homes telephone hookup I guess)
    • FTTH [wikipedia.org] has 2.5Gbps to distribute to its homes (I am assuming the article is implying this is per 50 homes, otherwise why are they using 50 homes in the last computation?)

    So again, I went to wikipedia to check the actual bandwidth of current optical fiber communications [wikipedia.org] and learned that recently speeds of 14tbps (thats terabits-per-second) have been reached over distances of 140km. This leads me to the conclusiong that while the currently installed FTTH switches could be limited to doing 2.5gbps (per 50 homes apparently? regardless..it doesn't really matter), which is by no means the limit of fiber-optic communication. 2.5gbps was the limit of third-generation fiber-optic communications (during the 1980's).

    Now lets take a moment to revisit the title of this article, "Copper Wire as Fast as Fiber?"; This article seems like a bunch of "FUD" to me.

    --
    Battlefield 2, anyone? [bf2e.com]
  • by Perdo ( 151843 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @02:30PM (#16398159) Homepage Journal
    The price of copper has gone from $0.25 a pound to $3.50 a pound in the last 5 years.

    The copper -vs- fiber debate almost ended in 2000 because fiber is such a superior data transmission medium.

    The copper -vs- fiber debate is completely over for new installations.

    The material cost is on par now, and the primary cost of the installation is not the material but the labor.

  • on their way out. Think about it - when a wireless infrastructure exists (think 802.11n, for example), it'll be much cheaper to buy your broadband over wireless, as there will be far less infrastructure to install and maintain. Lower transmission speeds for wireless vs [TP copper|fiber] will only be important to a few niche users. While it's true that fiber will always have a higher theoretical capacity than copper (limits of physics, not technology), the same is not true of wireless - radio wave propoga
    • Given latency and loss of packets on wireless, I'll respectfully say I'm keeping my wired connexion. It's far from sufficient for anything where interactive duplex communication is happening. Of course, given the fact that right now, cellular is attacking most of those issues, and at least vs telcos, they have a more business-friendly pricing model, maybe the telcos need to diversify anyways.
  • It looks like you might be able to get 100Mbps out of your DSL line so long as the CO is in your back yard. If you're like most people and live further away, then your speed will drop off sharply. While I'm sure most people will see an improvement from this technology, I doubt it will get many people up to 100Mbps. It's more likely you'll be able to go from 3 to 10-20 Mbps so long as you're within 1500 feet or so of the CO.
    • by RKBA ( 622932 )
      Or within 1500 feet or so of an RT.

      RT = Remote Terminal connected to the Central Office (CO) via fiber. Copper connects the RT to the user's home normally.
  • With all this talk of ever faster download speeds, I sure do wish my provider could do something about my upload speed. My download speed is now 20 MBps, but my upload speed has been stuck at 1 MBps for years. My IPS has complained to my telco (ADSL provider) about this, but so far nothing has changed. I'm told that the teco's business strategy is to only sell the higher upload speeds together with business accounts, which are way more expensive. Even the damned cable companies apply this strategy, even tho
  • From the article:

    ... Verizon's $18 billion decision to run fiber all the way into consumers' homes might be a costly one ...

    I'm sorry, when did this news come out? Oh, wait, I see; that must refer to Verizon's decision to accept $18 billion for the promise of rolling out fiber to the home.

    I am confident that nothing Verizon has done has cost them $18 billion. I doubt if there's a single county in the Verizon empire in which more than a thousand homes have FIOS as an option.

    • I doubt if there's a single county in the Verizon empire in which more than a thousand homes have FIOS as an option.

      Well that is definitely wrong. Just about the entire city of Plano, TX has FIOS service available. According to this article, back in April, about 22,000 of the 65,000 households even had a FIOS TV option:

      http://www.cedmagazine.com/article/CA6325716.html [cedmagazine.com]

      And within the last few months the service has expanded for most of the rest of Plano (verizon territory - not the corner of Plano which is

  • How is "topping out at 100mb/s" even remotely "as fast as fiber"?

    Here's a recent slashdot article reporting 14Tb/s over fiber...
    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/09/30/186 231 [slashdot.org]

  • by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @03:10PM (#16398763) Homepage

    You can shove more data over fiber, by several orders of magnitude, given enough equipment at the end-points. Copper only has a few hundred megaherz worth of useable frequency spectrum and that coupled with the noise floor and signal to noise ratio (SNR) puts an upper limit on how much data you can push over it. You can't just pump in higher voltages to improve the SNR because even with variable-sized twisted pair you will get noise leaking into adjacent wires.

    The issue with fiber is that getting the several orders of magnitude improvement in bandwidth requires increasingly expensive equipment at the end-points. This is fine for long-haul fiber but obviously not appropriate for a consumer end-point. Fiber gets multiplicative bandwidth improvements by transmitting light at different frequencies all over the same physical fiber optic cable. Specialized chips can pick-off the frequencies and split them into individual transceivers. A consumer end-point could decode one of those frequencies fairly cheaply, but not much more then that before the equipment becomes expensive. This is certainly viable... the head-end can transmit dozens of frequencies over the fiber and the distribution point on the pole can split it out to homes, or even just route it over shorter-haul copper in proximity to the home (which is probably a lot cheaper then running fiber all the way into a home).

    -Matt
  • fibre CAN go faster than 2.5Gbps,
    the last section to the doorstep is not usually cat 3,
    and they still rely on fibre etc. to get the data within range of the customers. Yes, you do save having to swap the last section of copper, but it not usually the big issue in providing broadband.
  • Fiber Speeds? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ffejie ( 779512 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @04:49PM (#16400407)
    100Mbps Copper? Great, but not Fiber. We already have 100Mbps copper -- it's call Ethernet, it runs over the little Cat 5e (or 6) wiring in my house. 100Mbps that's not fiber speeds, that's copper speeds. Obviously, doing it over 2 wire copper to supplant DSL, that's impressive, but the headline is misleading. Fiber speeds are 10Gbps+ in my mind. Sure there's slower speed fiber out there (as slow as 5Mbps on FiOS) but that's due to provisioning.

    Next time you claim something runs at Fiber Speeds, make sure it hits at least 1Gbps, please.

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