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12.13.2004
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
DSL providers seek faster broadband technology

Most DSL providers currently use asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) technology to power their broadband Internet services, but many are beginning to look elsewhere for a speedier option, according to a new study by market researcher In-Stat/MDR.

Last year, ADSL dominated the market for DSL semiconductors with 90 percent market share around the globe. But, ZDNet reported, as competition between broadband services heats up, especially in countries such as South Korea and Japan, many providers are choosing to upgrade their systems with the speedier very high bit-rate digital subscriber line (VDSL).

This transition means VDSL will outpace ASDL in terms of growth, the study found.

In 2004, ADSL continued to grow at a 52 percent rate due in part to the new ADSL2+ technology that delivers faster access. But in 2005, growth is expected to plummet to 14 percent, the study said. VDSL, on the other hand, grew 71.5 percent in 2004 and will continue its healthy rate at 65.3 percent in 2005.

The battle between the incumbent ADSL and the emerging VDSL centers on bandwidth. At optimum range, ADSL2+ technology lets phone carriers deliver up to 24Mb/s of bandwidth into every home within a mile of the central office. That’s enough bandwidth to deliver fast Internet access and streaming video through a common copper phone line.

But VDSL can reach up to 100Mb/s in bandwidth per household as long as the residence is within 1000 ft of the central office. VDSL has gained popularity in Asia because population density is high, and providers can serve entire apartment buildings with one line. The limitation, however, occurs beyond a mile from the central office, where performance degrades to match ADSL2+’s 24Mb/s.

In the United States, phone carriers spend billions upgrading their infrastructure with fiber optic lines. Some providers such as BellSouth and SBC Communications will continue to use existing copper lines into homes powered by ADSL2+ or VDSL technology.

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