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.

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