The Truth for Technicians Is in the Data

Taking Copper to Greater Heights With Best Practices for Pair Bonding
OSP Magazine

Today, more than 1 billion households are still connected to a copper line.1 As the reality of supporting HDTV and video in just about every room has become the norm and no longer a luxury, higher bandwidth for Triple Play Services (voice, data, and video) continues to see a growing demand. Leading telco service providers around the globe have struggled to keep up in the past until the introduction of pair bonding, a blessing from the DSL powers above. Through the early deployments of this now globally-adopted technology, 1 operator in the UK was able to deliver roughly 97% of the combined uplink and downlink throughputs of 2 optimized ADSL single circuits, while another in the US reported an average speed improvement of 30% by offering bonded VDSL.

While the evidence and reasoning behind pair-bonding has been around for several years, we’ve discovered through our field work that the implementation has only taken a substantial form of deployment in the US market very recently.  In fact, one Tier 1 telco shared with us that although only about 30% of their network is currently comprised of bonded circuits, this number is expected to double in the next few years based on the demand they are seeing from their customers. This reoccurring trend from the market has led us to chime in to the outside plant (OSP) technician’s mantra: Copper is not dead, but alive and well indeed. Well enough, in fact, to support speeds up to 100 Mbps through bonded circuits.

The deployment of pair-bonding continues to be key initiative to support legacy copper networks from a cost-efficiency perspective as it enables faster time-to-market and is less costly as compared to running fiber all the way to the end customer. According to the FCC, running fiber over the Last Mile to the home costs the provider at least $2,500 per subscriber, while taking the approach of providing a hybrid of fiber and copper over the existing plant costs about $500 per subscriber.

Greater Bandwidth via Pair Bonding
In short, pair bonding offers the ability to utilize and combine the speeds of 2 pairs (ADSL2+ or VDSL2) and deliver up to 200 Mbps in some instances, continuing to be a godsend for those end users whose access lines fall outside the maximum reach limit for service deployment on a single wire pair. This also saves many of the Tier 1 telco service providers a great deal of investment and the ability to quickly deliver better bandwidth performance to their large scale of customers, especially those in rural areas.

Figure 1 shows the rate vs. reach of a non-bonded VDSL2 line as compared to a VDSL2 bonded circuit. Pair-bonded VDSL2 can offer 100 Mbps over almost 2,000 feet, 80 Mbps to over 3,000 feet and 50 Mbps up to about a 6,000-foot range. Even over longer loops, bonding is able to maintain greater bandwidth over non-bonded VDSL2.

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