Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Semiconductor firms hope for better broadband over copper

One might think with the price of copper on the rise, telcos would be better off selling their aged copper cables for scrap metal and using the proceeds to defray the cost of installing "future proof" fiber optic cable allowing them to offer more advanced services over the so-called "last mile" to the customer.

On the other hand, they may be hoping that R&D efforts to increase the ability of copper cable -- which was designed to handle analog voice signals and not far more delicate, digital broadband traffic -- to carry DSL and IPTV signals farther and faster with fewer errors, permitting copper lines to stave off obsolescence.

Xtendwave announced today it received patents for technology that improves broadband and HDTV service by increasing the speed, capacity and distance of signals traveling over existing copper phone lines. The company claims the technology enables broadband providers "to far surpass the limits of their existing DSL services without re-engineering, replacing or upgrading their existing network infrastructure."

Separately, Portland, Oregon-based Rim Semiconductor Company announced this week that it has developed an Internet Protocol Subscriber Line™ specification that it claims provides fiber-like speeds over the existing copper telephone lines. According to the company, its proprietary Cupria™ processor is able to crunch data traffic at 40 megabits per second (Mpbs) over 5,500 feet (1.67km) on 26AWG (0.40mm) telephone wire. Existing technologies are able to achieve just 15 mbps at this distance on this wire type, the company claims.

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