Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aktino Sends 90 Mbps Down Copper Line

New technology is making a mockery of the notion that you need fiber optic cable to transport DS3 or Carrier Ethernet beyond the local area network. The latest amazement comes from Aktino, the Irvine, California company that builds carrier equipment designed to get higher performance from conventional unshielded twisted pair copper loops. They are now able to deliver DS3 bandwidth (45 Mbps) or over 90 Mbps of Carrier Ethernet bandwidth over a CSA (Carrier Serving Area) of 12,000 feet. This covers many business and cell tower locations that would otherwise be out of luck for high bandwidth connections.

Bandwidth is becoming a hot commodity for business and consumer applications as diverse as medical imaging, IPTV & video transport, engineering data transmission and telepresence. The cellular carriers are currently in a hotly contested race to see who can build out 3G networks and then be first with 4G capabilities. All of these advances are threatened by limitations on the metro and wide area network infrastructure that is geared to voice and modest speed data transmission. While there are many buildings in large metropolitan locations that area already "lit" for fiber optic service, that includes few cell tower sites and only a minority of businesses who want more bandwidth.

Fiber optic transmission offers nearly unlimited amounts of bandwidth, but it is no panacea. The cost per Mbps of bandwidth is extremely attractive from competitive carriers in lit locations. But if you aren't already served with fiber bandwidth, the cost of the construction to get those high bandwidths at low monthly lease cost can make the project unacceptably expensive. That can be the case in both densely built-up areas and in smaller towns or rural locations.

What broadband over copper does is extend the range of fiber optic networks to provide connections thousands of feet, perhaps several miles away. Nearly every location in the country is served by copper telephone wiring. You'll find a couple pair to every home, and larger binders with multiple pairs to business locations. Most are within a radius of 18,000 or less from the nearest telco central office. The majority are much closer than that. What's needed is a means to connect the fiber carriers to locations by using the conventional twisted pair copper already in place.

That's what Aktino specializes in. They connect to those cables with equipment that employs both DMT and MIMO technology to transmit far high bandwidths that you could get with the standard digital over copper transmission method of T1 lines. T1 is limited to 1.5 Mbps, but lines can be bonded to create larger bandwidths up to 9 Mbps or so. To get to Ethernet and DS3 bandwidths, you need technology that squeezes even more capacity out of those copper lines.

DMT or Discrete Multi Tone modulation makes use of many simultaneous carrier frequencies to carry more bits at one time. An advantage of DMT is that it is resistant to interference from other signals that might be present in binder groups, which are 23 to 100 bundles of copper pairs commonly used to consolidate telephone wiring on the way to the central office. If one channel is blocked by interference, the data can be shifted to others that are clear.

MIMO or Multiple Input Multiple Output technology is familiar as a wireless antenna system used for routers and planned for WiMAX to increase transmission bandwidth in environments where there is interference. By using 8 copper pair, with MIMO keeping their signals from causing cross-talk interference, the carrying capacity of ordinary copper phone line can be greatly increased.

It's the combination of DMT and MIMO using multiple pairs of UTP copper, typically 8 pair, that gives Aktino systems the ability to provide 90+ Mbps of asymmetrical bandwidth or 50 Mbps of symmetrical bandwidth over longer distances than you'd expect with FTTC (Fiber to the Curb) technology. This is good news for carriers needing 3G and 4G cellular backhaul and businesses who are running out of network capacity and need affordable DS3 and Carrier Ethernet bandwidth.

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