RealTime IT News

Lucent Takes VDSL Mainstream

Since the advent of high-speed Internet access via digital subscriber line (DSL), telecom providers have been excited about the possibility of providing television over copper wires and cutting into the profits only the cable industry has been able to enjoy to date.

Lucent Technologies hopes to deliver on the promise of video over DSL (VDSL) with the Wednesday announcement by officials of the Stinger IP2000 module. This piece of equipment integrates IP and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) processing with Gigabit Ethernet (GigE) connectivity.

With the Stinger, carriers can provide high-bandwidth fare, notably video-on-demand (VoD) and high-definition TV (HDTV), over an asynchronous DSL (ADSL) modem. The evolution of current residential ADSL fare, VDSL has been clocked at speeds of 50 Mbps, though distance restrictions are even more onerous than the current technology.

Routed directly through the telephone company's central office, the solution is expected to cut down on the time it takes to channel change at the DSL access multiplexer (DSLAM), improving the service's overall speed and efficiency.

Ashok Dhawan, Lucent broadband access group president, said just delivering speed isn't enough, but thinks Lucent has an answer for that, too.

"To deliver successful broadband video solutions, you need the right products, the right expertise and the right partners," he said. "By bringing these newly announced products to market, leveraging our extensive expertise in digital video at Bell Labs and working with a number of best-in-breed video companies, we are able to offer all the elements to make our customers successful.

For the highly-evolved techno-geek, this translates to movies on the tube that only the cable companies have been able to provide. Broadcast TV is also an option. Using a video card with a TV-out plug, viewers are even freed from the confines of their 17" or 19" computer monitor.

Lucent touts the Stinger module as a "triple play," enabling video, voice and data traffic over one line, though the demand for VoD is likely one that will take years to realize.

Al Yam, general manager of technology development and engineering at SaskTel, a Canadian telecom, said his company plans on incorporating at least some of the bundled services now available with the Stinger.

"Lucent is our chosen DSL vendor, and is committed to deliver the gigabit bandwidth that we require for delivering services such as broadcast TV, as well as potential future offerings such as video-on-demand (VOD)," he said. "Our significant investment in, and deployment of, Stinger technology allows SaskTel to deliver a portfolio of advanced services to our customers from the same Stinger platform."

VDSL products are based on very high bit-rate DSL (VDSL) standards (the two are often confused), a technology that still hasn't ironed out all its issues. Lucent is part of a 70-company coalition pushing VDSL-discrete multitone (DMT), one of two competing standards. Another line-coding scheme, quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) is the other heavily-favored standard.

So far, carrier acceptance of the standard has been minimal. Many providers scrapped their VDSL projects in 2001 the dot com bubble burst and dried up much of the capital expenditure budgets.