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Vanhastel: Strong Sales, Soon for Vectoring
Saturday, 15 October 2011 20:24
Gear ready to ship. Stefaan Vanhastel tells me Alcatel intends to price their vectored equipment low enough to ensure substantial sales in 2012. At reference customers including Belgacom they are seeing 30-70% performance improvement, occasionally more, albeit only on short loops. The enormous enthusiasm about vectoring has obscured the reality that the majority of lines are too long to see much improvement.
     The consensus is that volume sales of vectored DSL will be delayed until 2013-2014, when several vendors are in the market. Big telcos are notoriously slow to make decisions. Vanhastel intends to do better than that. 
     Alcatel has vectored line cards and node processors almost ready to ship, with prototypes in production at Belgacom. They have to decide whether to price high and take advantage of being first to market or price aggressively to win customers from other manufacturers. 
     “We expect a great 2012,” Vanhastel enthuses.

Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 06:42
Alcatel: 2012 Ship Date for Vectoring
Thursday, 22 September 2011 09:59
Alcatel_vector_gear_small70-100 megabits 400-500 meters. Stefaan Vanhastel promises to deliver production quality vectored DSL to the first European customers in December, with North America soon to follow. He tells me that generally field results are 100 megabits about 400 meters and 70-90 megabits at 500 meters. That’s not quite double what most lines are getting without vectoring. Vectored noise cancellation is particularly effective at short distances and falls off rapidly after that, yielding more like a 30% improvement at 1,000 meters and even less at 1,500 meters. 
     Deutsche Telekom and British Telecom are deploying something like 10M lines of FTTN/DSL from neighborhood terminals that will bring many - perhaps half - of the homes involved to distances that can benefit from the vectoring. It’s natural for builds like that to use vectored gear for all new installations. Alcatel’s not revealing costs, but for new gear the difference should be well under $50/line, a dollar per subscriber month for much higher speeds. 
    Alcatel addresses the crucial problem of working well with existing deployments in several ways. For example, AT&T U-Verse has already deployed around 29M of the 31M lines Ralph de la Vega says are in the plan. While those lines could be connected to new vectored line cards, there's no indication AT&T or any other deployed networks will undergo a major system overhaul.  Even worse, “unvectored” lines in the same binder with “vectored” lines can cause serious interference and reduces the effectiveness of vectoring. How well the existing lines integrate with the newly vectored lines will be a key differentiator of the new systems. As results come from the field I'll be watching closely. 
     Vectoring minimizes cross talk, the most important source of noise on loops under 1,000 meters. A side effect is that other disturbers, such as impulse noise, now become more important  than they had been. Today, these generally minor noise sources are often drowned out by primary crosstalk. With that crosstalk defeated, they become more noticeable. Problems like this will continue to make some  lines do considerably worse than expected. 
     It's great to see real deployments are close after six years. 
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 10:27
Hot in Paris: Vectoring, MIMO 3x3, HD Voice
Monday, 19 September 2011 18:47

nostradamus_wikimedia_commonsReally Real? That's the question I'll be asking the exhibitors at Paris' Broadband World Forum.

Vectoring has the promise of doubling short loop DSL speeds. Take a look at Alcatel, ASSIA, Huawei, Ikanos and a few others to see how close it is to market and what problems to deal with. Keymile has a new vectored line card that's also 50% denser.

Your gateway and home network can't keep up with decent broadband or HD TV if you're like most of us. 3x3 and 4x4 MIMO promise to double 802.11n speeds. Visit Celeno, Lantiq and Quantenna to hear the promises and expect a pleasent surprise when they tell you the price. If it's only a few dollars more for the MIMO, it makes sense to use it almost everywhere. Then ask the carriers testing whether this really is enough for HD around the house. Swisscom says it works.

HD Voice is now standard in Franch and Germany gateways. Why not everywhere? Lantiq will sell a CAT-IQ chip for $2 and that's about all you need.

Infinera's Multi-Terabit Packet- Optical Transport Network Platform (DTN-X) is promising data transfer rates up to 500 Gbps.  Ericsson also has new switches/routers from their old Redback division. Hans Vestberg tells me they are very hot. 

Hughes has new satellites with gigabits of spot beam capacity. Latency won't go away, but speeds of 5 megabits and more to homes are now coming to market.

Adtran and Calix, major US suppliers, hope to break through to European and Asian customers.

From the carriers: Hong Kong Broadband will explain how to make money selling 100 meg for less than $30. Armenia will claim it will be the most fibered country in Europe. Deutsche Telekom will get serious about sharing infrastructure in a series of four sessions.

G.Hn announcements from Lantiq, Sigma, and Marvell. Until the chips they are talking about make it through interoperability testing, it's talk but no action. The talk sounds great. John Egan of Marvell is confident prices will be very competitive, very quickly.

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 September 2011 03:02
Node Scale Breaks Through at Huawei
Saturday, 10 September 2011 13:56

Ikanos_exaggerated_node_diagramSeveral years ago, AT&T targeted 2013 for vectoring to enable doubled DSL speeds over short loops like their U-Verse field terminals. Huawei now is announcing a prototype unit of “node level vectoring” designed for just such a deployment, sure to be matched quickly by Alcatel, AT&T’s primary supplier.

    “Node scale” vectoring was introduced by Ikanos in 2009 to solve the problem of mixed networks that share the same binders connecting to a neighborhood. Previous vectoring demonstrations proved the concept worked for new deployments where all the lines were connected to a single DSLAM/line card with vectored noise cancellation built in. That’s fine for new deployments, but inadequate when some of the lines are connected to any of the 300M DSL ports already deployed.

    The top line in the chart here from Ikanos shows the potential of vectoring, nearly doubling speeds at short distances. At around 500 meters, the speed gains are much less and they tail off substantially by about 1,000 meters. The middle line is Ikanos' projection of the results of just vectoring the line card, not the complete node. Other companies believe they will do much better; I suspect Ikanos has made some arbitrary assumptions that reduce competitors likely performance.

    Ikanos’ solution, now reinforced by Huawei’s announcement, is to do the noise cancellation earlier in the network, presumably with a small but powerful processor for each node. Huawei, the #2 DSLAM manufacturer, delivered units worth over $400M in 2010. The Huawei prototype yields “average bandwidth of 100 Mbit/s over a 300m access distance and an average of 80 Mbit/s over a 500m access distance. The bandwidth increases by 70%.” Huawei’s timetable for deployment is 2013.


Last Updated on Monday, 12 September 2011 22:56
Recall! Recall! Germany Replacing Speedport Power Supply
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 01:58
DT_illustrationADSL gear is rarely a safety problem, but Deutsche Telekom is now recalling the power supplies for it's Speedport W 700V routers because of danger due to an electrical shock. The case could crack or the cover detach, exposing live elements. The unit is made by respected Taiwanese manufacturer Leader Electronics. Google doesn't show me any problems with other Leader products.
    The Speedport also had a major security problem in early days. Here are the DT announcement as well as the earlier security advisory.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 August 2011 16:15
Jules Brings Back the Internet Tax
Sunday, 14 August 2011 05:44

FCCBlogWhile the government around him is torn apart by fear of default, Jules has just brought back the hated "Internet Tax." A few months ago, the FCC denied they would order this tax, euphemistically called "broadening the USF contribution base." I had added up what Jules had promised the different companies and the numbers simply didn't work without a tax increase somewhere. They told me I had it wrong. Now it's back. 

    While telling the Washington Post he would achieve "affordable broadband," Julius has actually presided over a pattern of increases that have raised the price of broadband. Now, he wants to raise the price even further. The other commissioners seem inclined to go along. 

     Deceptively, he calls this "Bringing Broadband to Rural America: The Home Stretch on USF and ICC Reform." Anyone who looks at the actual proposed spending knows most the money is a subsidy to phone companies for what they already will do. It will have almost no effect on actual deployment of broadband.

     Most egregiously, the big telcos are asking for an additional $B/year or more for the broadband they already have in place. They want another $billion for extending LTE where they already planned. AT&T in the T-Mobile merger says building to 97% LTE is good business. In the Big Telco Plan for USF, they and Verizon insist they would never do that build without $billions in subsidy. 

     Let's believe AT&T that they don't need the subsidy and save $billions. 


Last Updated on Sunday, 14 August 2011 06:48
Arcadyan: Emerging Asian Gateway Giant
Wednesday, 12 October 2011 18:13
Millions sold to Deutsche Telekom. Invisible to me and most others in the West, Arcadyan has been selling 10's of millions of units under some of the most prominent brand names. They are now opening offices around the world and seeking direct sales.
    I sought them out at BBWF because the Deutsche Telekom box is one of the most advanced gateways in the world in volume production. 3x3 MIMO WiFi, HD Voice, USB for home storage server and many other features that carriers around the world will soon make standard. The volume of products in their booth surprised me, including all flavors of WiFi, femtocells, and set top boxes. They have a strong engineering team and have developed their own software stack for gateways.
    The Microsoft Mediaroom set top drew the attention of a North American carrier at the show. Mediaroom is doing amazingly well, actually beating cable even over FTTN/DSL. The costs are high, however, especially the license and the set top. Until recently, only Motorola and Scientific Atlanta/Cisco were certified by Microsoft. AT&T wanted a broader choice of suppliers, so Pace/2Wire and Tatung are well along on the path to certification. 
Last Updated on Monday, 31 October 2011 06:38
Brussels, October 3: Big European Operators Asking for Bit Tax
Thursday, 22 September 2011 09:00

digital_agendaA remarkable dozen CEOs of Europe's largest companies are coming to Brussels October 3 to ask Neelie Kroes to allow "new models involving traffic - or quality dependent payments at wholesale level." In other words, the telcos want to collect from Disney, Netflix, Google, Hulu and anyone else who wants to deliver bits to people in Europe. "To 'ell with net neutrality" is the message, which the companies believe will "enable a sustainable digital society." ETNO and the Financial Times are sponsors. It's branded as an "invitation-only" event but it looks like registration is pretty open.  

      Bill Kennard, U.S. Ambassador to Brussels, follows nine CEOs and has to decide whether to shoot down their goals. The subtext of the European carriers bit tax is that the content folks are largely American and the carriers European. All good Europeans therefore should support charges aimed at the Americans. This hasn't been declared a trade war, but that's really what's going on. Obama and his FCC are strong supporters of net neutrality, so Kennard would normally face down the Euro CEOs and make clear the U.S. will fight back. He may be conflicted; Bill in his years outside government at Carlyle owned a telco and made some ill-considered statements that arenow contadicted by a strong U.S. policy initiative. Perhaps some of the D.C. reporters can track down the U.S. position here.      

    Steelie Neelie's greatest achievement was to save consumers $billions by regulating down mobile call termination and roaming rates. Collecting on termination nearly always costs consumers, because the carriers have "terminating monopolies" on millions of customers that only slowly erode. Economist Jonathan Liebneau is opening the event and perhaps can give a clear explanation of why "two-sided pricing" requires strong competition. Strong competition, of course, is exactly what these carriers lobby against. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 09:51
BBWF Exhibits - Broadband World Forum Paris
Saturday, 17 September 2011 21:10

It's going to be a great show. Here's some notes on the more interesting exhibitors as well as the complete list. See also the What's Hot.


  • Actelis Networks has an interesting small box that can dramatically increase the rate/reach of a DSL line. Just don’t call it a repeater. 
  • Adtran, like Calix, is mostly considered a U.S. supplier but is ambitious about expanding worldwide. 
  • Alcatel-Lucent for two years has been on the cusp of delivering vectored DSL and will probably feature it. (Written before I took a briefing under non-disclosure.)
  • AudioCodes. Ask them about HD Voice, ready to explode in Europe. 
  • Aware hasn’t been as visible since they stopped designing DSL chips but maintains a line of respected test equipment
  • Broadband Forum is a non-profit group including almost all companies in the industry. 
  • Calix, like Adtran, is mostly considered a U.S. supplier but is ambitious about expanding worldwide. 
  • Celeno makes MIMO WiFi chips. Ask them for evidence from the that MIMO WiFi is fast enough to distribute HD video around the house. No one believes it, but it’s very close.  
  • DECT Forum sets the standard for cordless phones. The new version, CAT-IQ, includes HD Voice. Lantiq tells me it’s ready for production. 
  • Ericsson has a new line of “edge routers” that Hans Vestberg tells me are really fast and will (finally) redeem the Redback purchase. Ask Ericsson, Alcatel, and NokiaSiemens when 8x8 LTE Advanced will be ready. 
  • France Telecom Orange is the world pioneer in HD Voice, starting in Moldavia and soon in Paris. They continue to support their labs when so many other telcos have said to ‘ell with the future. 
  • Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited is little known in the West but offers the best deal on 100 megabit and gigabit connections in the world. CEO William Yeung is doing a keynote on how to be profitable while charging 50% less for 100 megabits. He has a “great big hairy goal” of displacing the incumbent. 
  • Huawei passed Ericsson to be the biggest telecom vendor in the world. The problem now: there’s very little more room to grow. So they are making billion dollar investments in cloud computing and corporate networking. 
  • Ikanos Communications is a must see for the first details of node scale vectored DSL, which Huawei has endorsed. 
  • Lantiq has their version of DSL vectoring, 3x3 MIMO WiFi, HD Voice for Dect phones, and a customer announcement on GPON chips.
  • Pace, without fanfare, has probably become the largest set top box maker in the world.  Motorola & Cisco/Scientific Atlantic 
  • Qualcomm Atheros and Ruckus Wireless are both at the forefront of high speed WiFi. Is it ready for HD TV? Can they prove it. 
  •  Sandvine’s Dave Caputo was surprised when I recently recommended their gear to a consulting client for network management. I’ve often criticized the abusive ways service providers use the boxes to close the web, but they can also be used for honorable purposes.
  •  Technicolor is the new name for the company we used to call Thomson. They remain a major player in CPE, gateways and set tops. (And also deliver Technicolor services to Hollywood.)
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 11:17
New DSL Con London 29-30 November 2011
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 15:30
DSL_Informa_con300M homes connect via DSL and that number will continue increasing. In the early days, DSLCON was the event, loaded with people exploring what's new. DSL is no longer "new," but the technology keeps advancing. So I welcome a new event, Informa's DSL Acceleration, which just put out a call for speakers. 

    Informa now runs the Broadband World Forum in Paris, a good show. The contact is jane.schofield@informa.com. They promise a focus on "assessing and deploying cost effective solutions for super fast broadband." Expect lots of talk about vectoring, bonding, and VDSL.  www.dslconference.com

Arab Spring, British Spring, China Spring?
Tuesday, 16 August 2011 16:57

Chineseart_ExecutionpaintingCameron wants to cut off those "plotting violence, disorder and criminality." I doubt cutting off Facebook would have handicapped Bernie Madoff of the many criminals in London's City, but who knows. Sarkozy is cutting off folks for copying; perhaps he thinks Samsung should not just be sanctioned for copying the iPad but also removed from the net?

   The Chinese saw the irony. As The Guardian reported, “The Chinese government official news agency, Xinhua, welcomed the suggestion, saying it marked an improvement from Cameron's comments in February. Then, he had urged Egypt and other north African nations to allow freedom of expression after they tried to restrict the operation of social media.

   “Xinhua said: 'For the benefit of the general public, proper web monitoring is legitimate and necessary. We may wonder why western leaders, on the one hand, tend to indiscriminately accuse other nations of monitoring, but on the other take for granted their steps to monitor and control the internet.'” http://bit.ly/qc3IzK

   Did anyone else see the irony of the U.S. working actively to delay Egyptian elections after the disorders because we thought the Muslim Brotherhood might outpoll the folks we prefer?

1,000,000 Homes: Let Them Eat Satellite
Sunday, 31 July 2011 12:43
End of universal service For nearly a century, U.S. telcos served every home in the country. They now demand that end and that the FCC, pre-empting the states, end "carrier of last resort" requirements. They project this would apply to 728,000 homes in the big carrier territory. Adding the small carriers takes the figure to about a million. Since the Bells get relatively little USF money for these homes, the subsidy todoay is not excessive: about 1/50th of their annual profit/cash flow. There's no reason they couldn't continue to serve these homes and still remain among the most profitable companies in the world. This is not mentioned in the press release of the summary; you have to look to page 95 of a very dense document to find it. But this is one of the biggest telecom stories of the decade, and reporters won't be deterred.
     With time, I planned a companion article "Why 400 Congressman Will Refuse to Support the Big Telco Plan." When I get back from Montana, I intend to hire an assistant/paid intern whose first responsibility will be to ask "Do you support the Plan?" When they realize it means a million homes will lose phone service, I don't think even Bell lobbying power will get them to endorse it. I'll also ask as many of the state commissioners as possible.
Lastly, the Commission has authority to eliminate outdated service obligations
such as those imposed under the Commission’s eligible-telecommunications-carrier (“ETC”)
regulations or other carrier-of-last-resort (“COLR”) rules. Going forward, state or federal
service obligations must apply only to funded carriers in those areas where they receive explicit
support — regardless of those carriers’ legacy regulatory status. Current federal ETC
obligations, however, require designated carriers to provide supported services throughout their
Attachment 5
service areas, regardless of whether they are receiving high-cost support for those services.
Similarly, some states have COLR obligations that require incumbent LECs to provide service in
a given area, sometimes at reduced rates. In today’s dynamic marketplace, these regulations are
not only unnecessary but actually undermine Congress’s and the Commission’s universal service
goals by locking consumers into legacy technologies and deterring carriers from deploying
broadband and IP-enabled services. Existing ETC and COLR regulations, where they apply,
inefficiently skew the market and make it difficult (or even impossible) for carriers to upgrade
from legacy architecture, thus diverting capital that could be used for broadband deployment.
 Scenario #3 is the Coalition’s recommended solution. It focuses exclusively on areas currently served by price cap
incumbent LECs, and limits the total annual disbursements from CAF to $2.2 billion for these areas. The $2.2
billion cap is maintained by setting the Alternative Technology Cost Threshold at $256 per service location, which
means that the approximately 728 thousand highest‐cost service locations will be served by an alternative
broadband technology (i.e., satellite).
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