This is for Bigg.
Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs has managed to set a new world record for data transmission over copper lines — you know, the presumably "crappy" copper connection between your house and a local node, and the very thing that your ISP is likely balking at ever replacing with fiber-optic connectivity, due to the cost.
In other words, no crazy-fast Internet for you. Well. At least until now.
Bell Labs was able to reach a top speed of 10 gigabits per second over copper wire using a prototype technology it calls "XG-FAST," the successor to its previous "G.fast" technology that is currently being ratified by the International Telecommunication Union. To do so, Bell Labs had to kick the frequency range it was using to 500 MHz — more than double that of the 212 MHz used by G.fast, and leagues beyond that used by G.fast's predecessor, VDLS 2 (which uses anywhere from 17-30 MHz).
Bell Labs's breakthrough could presumably reduce the cost of fiber-optic network rollouts, as the fiber connectivity could be extended simply to a point where copper could take over. Neighborhoods, for example, wouldn't all need fiber-optic lines strung to the doors of each and every house; the existing copper infrastructure could be used to carry the signal through the "last mile."
But the increased frequency range, which enables Bell Labs to stuff a lot more data through the copper, comes with a cost: In its tests, Bell Labs was only able to sustain the 10 Gbps speeds for a total of 30 meters, or 100 feet. It (naturally) got a bit more room out of its slower 1Gbps symmetrical connection, which was consistent up to just around 70 meters (230 feet).
"The Bell Labs speed record is an amazing achievement, but crucially in addition they have identified a new benchmark for 'real-world' applications for ultra-broadband fixed access," Federico Guillén, president of Alcatel-Lucent's fixed networks business, said in a statement. "XG-FAST can help operators accelerate FTTH deployments, taking fiber very close to customers without the major expense and delays associated with entering every home. By making 1 gigabit symmetrical services over copper a real possibility, Bell Labs is offering the telecommunications industry a new way to ensure no customer is left behind when it comes to ultra-broadband access."
That said, don't hold your breath for XG-FAST to hit your local ISP anytime soon. G.fast is expected to become commercially available in 2015, and it'll likely require ISPs to run fiber "a bit closer to the home," according to PCMag's sister site, ExtremeTech. That'll put a bit of a cost burden on ISPs, but perhaps not as much as XG-FAST, which will require an even closer fiber connection in order to benefit from the fastest speeds.