Matt Brunk
Matt Brunk has worked in past roles as director of IT for a multisite health care firm; president of Telecomworx,...
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Matt Brunk | April 24, 2015 |


Bell Labs Continues to Change Our World

Bell Labs Continues to Change Our World 10 Gbps over DSL and 5G wireless are two technologies reshaping communications as we know it.

10 Gbps over DSL and 5G wireless are two technologies reshaping communications as we know it.

Last week I had the pleasure of speaking with Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs and CTO of Alcatel-Lucent, about challenges in the terabit optical arena. As always, getting a glimpse into what the folks at the Labs are working on is more than fascinating.

I've always been a fan of Bell Labs, and thinking back to a facility tour I once did reminds me incredible opportunity. Just when you begin to think that something we encounter in technology has reached its limit, the good folks at Bell Labs break barriers.

Marcus Weldon, Bell Labs
In our conversation, Marcus talked about a couple of key projects that will change our world.

The first is XG-Fast, which provides 10 gigabits per second over DSL using vectoring, or DSL crosstalk cancellation. Whatever the gap between copper and fiber may be, this technology means that copper plant is still viable. Given the ability to accomplish broadband speeds over copper, XG-Fast diminishes the barriers to adequate bandwidth. This means that Internet-only packages aren't obsolete; XG-Fast gives new hope to the scores of small businesses that need Internet, fax, and voice convergence in an affordable model. For Alcatel-Lucent's comparison of XG-Fast to other technologies, see below:

During testing, Bell Labs showed that XG-Fast technology can deliver 1-Gbps symmetrical services over 70 meters (for the cable being tested). It achieved this using a frequency range of 350 MHz. Signals at higher frequencies were completely attenuated after 70 meters, the company reported.
5G, or fifth-generation mobile communications, will allow millions of subscriber connections over a cell, compared to the 300 to 1,000 subscriber connections supported on existing cells. 5G requires less synchronization than LTE wireless communications, and places less strain on user device batteries. Marcus suggested imagining a wire over the air with energy beams focused toward the location of each user device. He said, "Use what we have and efficiently" -- which is reminiscent of the sentiment I shared a few years back from Martin Cooper, inventor of the mobile phone. "We need better use of spectrum, not getting more spectrum," Cooper has said, as I reported in the No Jitter post, "Indoor Mobility?"

Breaking the terabit optical barrier, running DSL faster over copper, and delivering more connections over the air may seem like trivial accomplishments to some, but they are not. Speaking to Marcus was like reading James Martin's The Wired Society and conjuring up what once was only imaginable is now practical.

Bell Labs focuses on the human-need problems, Marcus said. He explained: With automation comes empowerment, and technologies like these will help give people greater control over their lives and provide them the ability to live anywhere.

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