Fiber optics is the wave of the future, but don't go putting copper-based DSL on life support just yet. Alcatel-Lucent says its research arm, Bell Labs, has managed to push downstream speeds to around 300Mbps over a distance of 400 meters, or 100Mbps over a distance of 1 kilometer. It was able to do this with a new technology called DSL Phantom Mode.
"At its core, DSL Phantom Mode involves the creation of a virtual or 'phantom' channel that supplements the two physical wires that are the standard configuration for copper transmission lines," Alcatel-Lucent said. "Bell Labs’ innovation and the source of DSL Phantom Mode’s dramatic increase in transmission capacity lies in its application of analogue phantom mode technology in combination with industry-standard techniques: vectoring that eliminates interference or 'crosstalk' between copper wires, and bonding that makes it possible to take individual lines and aggregate them."
This could be a huge development for companies like AT&T, which are entrenched in copper. At the same time, other companies, like Qwest, would need to install new equipment in the central office and in consumer homes.