Gigabit internet has the potential to be fast and amazing. But the prospect of "Download entire movies in mere seconds!" is a mere pipedream if you don't have access to those lightning fast fibre lines. But thanks to a new approach from Alcatel-Lucent, your creaky old copper phone lines might be good enough. That's a really big deal if it actually works.
Alcatel-Lucent is currently in the process of perfecting a new standard called G.fast that turbo charges existing phone lines offering fibre like speeds over twisted copper. The new technology simply broadens the range of frequencies available on the cooper lines and cuts down on interference, enabling data to fly. Over a distance of 200 meters it can send data as fast as 1.1 gigabits per second, though that speed drops to 500 megabits at 300 feet. This is sort of like strapping a jet engine on the back of your rickety old Volvo and driving from London to Glasgow in 30 minutes instead of seven hours.
For now, the technology works best over the distance from the telephone pole to the house which would help internet service providers clear a serious logistical hurdle when it comes to bringing ultra high speed internet into people's homes. You see, it's much easier to install fibre optic cables along the main lines instead of having to replace the wiring at every single house. As Stefaan Vanhastel, Alcatel-Lucent’s director of marketing, told the Technology Review, "Fibre to the home is obviously the most suitable technology, but you are installing new infrastructure, which requires a new installation in every home. If you want to cover an entire country, it will take 10 or 20 years to do that."
Who wants to wait 10 or 20 years just to be able to download movies in seconds instead of hours? We can barely wait the 10 or 20 minutes it takes a damn pizza order to get here. Luckily, Alcatel-Lucent's new technology is in the testing stages and is expected to get the green light from the International Telecommunications Union by 2015. So the next time the cable guy comes to your house and offers to clear out all that copper wiring, just say no. You can use that! Just don't let any rapscallions steal your internet. [Technology Review]
Image via Flickr / Sir Mildred Pierce