It is one of life’s ironies that the equipment used to establish ultra-fast communication links, the telecommunications fixed network, has lived up to its name and remained fixed for several decades. The traditional metallic conductor-based ‘tree and branch’ architecture forms the basis of most telcos main networks. It has gradually evolved and provided more capacity, from basic 64 kbit/s telephony through dial-up ‘broadband’ to genuine broadband via wholly copper links (ADSL and ADSL2).
These systems nearly always use copper conductor cables that have remained largely unchanged for over 30 years. VDSL (also known as Fiber to the Cabinet) however started a change that used optical fiber to a deep cabinet (i.e. one near a customer group) to step up capacity, from the approximately 20 Mb/s ADSL limit to a figure nearer 100 Mb/s.
However, several factors are converging to make higher capacity a near term requirement. These include:
The volume of video content on the Internet, which is increasing rapidly, as are the audiences watching it
The transmission demands of video, which are rapidly evolving from ’mere’ HD to bandwidth-hungry 4K and 8K technologies
The use of file sharing, gaming and homeworking which have further increased capacity needs
The Internet of Things phenomenon is at last gathering pace - smart monitoring and metering, Internet-enabled devices and especially, the health needs of ageing populations, are now prime concerns for planners and politicians alike.