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UK TSB Grants Genesis GBP250k to Develop 400Mb DSL Rings Broadband Tech

Monday, Apr 16th, 2012 (2:14 pm) - Score 818

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which advises the UK government on how best to remove barriers to innovation and accelerate the exploitation of new technologies, has awarded a new SMART grant worth £250,000 to Canadian firm Genesis Technical Systems (GTS) in order to help with the development of its potentially 400Mbps (Megabits/sec) capable DSLRings broadband technology.

Readers might recall that we first covered DSL-Rings technology during early November 2010 (here and here), which is shortly after we learnt that plans were in motion for a possible UK trial. The solution is similar to FTTC / VDSL2 (e.g. BTInfinity) technology and works by utilising two copper pairs (e.g. bonding existing BT copper phone lines) to deliver download speeds of up to 400Mbps, allegedly at low power / low cost and even “over long distances“.

Stephen Cooke, President and CTO of Genesis, told ISPreview.co.uk in 2010:

DSL Rings is far less sensitive to distance than conventional DSL architectures and can maintain bandwidths of 20x or more than current offerings at most distances from the Exchange. DSL Rings is generally remotely line powered (no batteries or HVAC systems required) and can be run from the Exchange without any fiber at all. However, DSLR can be used in conjunction with FTTC to provide higher bandwidths than FTTC/VDSL2 alone.”

As usual we strongly recommend that readers take all such claims with an appropriately big pinch of salt, not least because similar solutions often run into trouble when they meet a real-world environment. Likewise GTS originally told us that they aimed to have a finished solution available in 2011 and the most recent update suggests that its first field trial product (proof of concept) should now be ready by mid-2012 (Q2), which is needed before any actual trials could even begin.

Genesis has today informed that they’re currently “talking to a number of councils in the UK” who are apparently interested in testing GTS’s DSL Rings technology. Most interestingly GTS “recently visited” BT on a quiet lane in the middle of the Mountfitchet test village (Stansted) to better understand the physical telecoms environment in the UK and “learn how [they] solve installation challenges“.


GTS Statement on their BT Visit

When discussing who will be able to receive these services only some of the answers are clear; Infinity can only be deployed where the cost model shows a return on the investment, so where the install is too complex or away from the high density urban areas no plans exist, about one third of homes will not be served. For fibre to the home [FTTH] there are still issues holding back roll out; homes still require a copper line to maintain their current POTS phone service, and trials only happen where the costs have been offset by central government or when covered by developers in prestigious new build areas.

As a fact finding event we spent time discussing the Genesis DSL Ring and made good use of the many years experience of our BTOpenreach host who was able to offer advice regarding enclosures, lightning protection and deployment of different sized cables.

It should be said that homes and businesses will not “still require a copper line to maintain their current POTS phone service” for much longer as BT’s Fibre Voice Access (FVA) service, which runs the phone service over fibre optic cable, will shortly become a commercial product. Meanwhile GTS hope to start their field trial by the end of this year and optimistically suggest that the first commercial deployment could happen in the same time frame Q4-2012 (that would be a fairly short trial).

GTS will receive the SMART grant on a quarterly basis. At the end of each quarter Genesis will submit a claim and the TSB will refund 36.4% of the qualifying expenditure up to the grant level of £250,000. It will be interesting to see what comes out of all this but readers should take note that DSL Rings tech isn’t the only game in town and global telecommunications firm Alcatel-Lucent, which also has strong ties to BT, already has a commercialised alternative that uses vectoring (here) to help reduce interference and boost coverage / speeds.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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