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

Monday, April 16th, 2012 (2:14 pm) - Score 817
genesis technical systems dsl rings

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.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark

    How does this translate in the real world?

    Example: 3680m of copper/ali achieves IP profile of 1750kbps on ADSL1

    Bonding two of those might achieve a throughput of perhaps 3Mbps

    Just changing some kit at the exchange increases that to 60Mbps?

  2. Avatar me

    interesting, would be nice if we could get more than the 100-120Mbps speed that VDSL can manage.

  3. Fibre does not need a copper line at all, POTS is so yesterday, VOIP is here to stay and battery packs can provide phone service and most folk have mobiles anyway. Bonding copper pairs won’t work in rural areas as many are already on DACS. (line splitters) Laying more copper to deliver a pathetic few meg is not the way to go, and the TSB should have more sense than to put our taxpayers money into protecting the old copper phone network. Innovation doesn’t mean patching up obsolete technology. If we want to lead the world, we have to invest in decent infrastructure. The copper can be used a while longer in dense urban areas, but for distance it has to be fibre. We also need fibre to the masts, because the mobile network is struggling too.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      “Bonding copper pairs won’t work in rural areas as many are already on DACS. (line splitters)”

      Presumably you have figures on the “many on DACS” to support this statement?

      “Laying more copper to deliver a pathetic few meg is not the way to go, ”

      Not sure 400Mbps counts as a pathetic few meg!

      The FTTP or bust brigade discount the costs and time involved in replacing the existing local network with fbre, simply focus on their preferred technical solution. If this tech really can deliver 400Mbps at low cost and over long distances then it’s surely worth exploring, especially if it could be deployed relatively quickly.

    • Avatar Somerset

      And how do you propose that a full UK FTTH rollout is funded?

      What’s the problem with mobile companies and fibre to the mast? Many have it, it’s a standard telco product across the UK. An radio is an alternative that’s used extensively.

    • Avatar DTMark

      We’re going to be world leaders with our “up to” speeds, not the actual ones.

  4. Avatar zemadeiran

    Nice one Chris,

    Although a jump in long distance bandwidth over copper would definitely be welcomed by many, the long and short of it IS fiber (pun intended).

  5. Avatar David

    In the article it mentions Stansted (test village), as a resident of fore mentioned village, my question is, what are we testing. As currently only the exchange is FTTC live, and no one can order FTTC. FTTC is un-available as a future option, when checking btwholesale checker or Bt or any other checker, although In the past before the exchange went live I could get an estimate of 39m and 10m, and other in the village would get similar speeds.

    • You’d need to ask BTOpenreach or Genesis about that. But from reading the details I got the impression that they had an isolated test area/lane for training engineers, which suggests that it might not be available to locals in Mountfitchet proper.

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