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Cable Technology Feature Article

June 26, 2008

Aktino Teaches Old Copper More New Tricks

By Richard Grigonis, Executive Editor, IP Communications Group

Over the years, one of Yours Truly’s periodic jests has involved using the phrase “teaching old copper new tricks” to describe various never-ending developments designed to keep the ancient network of copper wires relevant in an age of wireless broadband and optical fiber. Back in the early days of ADSL, everyone longed for VDSL (oops, not much reach) or at least SDSL (symmetric DSL, to improve upload speeds).
More recently, Hatteras Networks has revitalized equipment enabling carriers and service providers with their technology that delivers high-bandwidth reliable business services to business locations not served by fiber. The company has managed to fill the very large bandwidth and services gap that currently exists between a traditional T1/E1 service and next-generation fiber-based services by delivering broadband Ethernet solutions over existing copper facilities. Service providers can now transparently deliver Metro Ethernet services and take on the exploding demand for high bandwidth mobile wireless and DSLAM backhaul transport.
I’ve also used the phrase when discussing “pseudowire,” the technology that emulates a native service over a PSN (Packet Switched Network). The native service may be anything from ATM, Frame Relay, Ethernet, TDM, or SONET/SDH, while the PSN may be MPLS, IP (either IPv4 or IPv6), or L2TPv3. Thus, conventional voice and TDM traffic can be carried over packet networks without having to buy new equipment. Axerra Networks (News - Alert) (www.axerra.com) bills itself as “The Pseudo-Wire Company” and is in fact a leading provider of circuit emulation solutions.
And now, the latest company to teach old copper new tricks is Aktino (News - Alert) (www.aktino.com) of Irvine, California. Aktino has introduced a repeater for its industry-leading bonded copper equipment that doubles (yes, doubles) the reach of high-bandwidth backhaul and Ethernet services capacity, enabling bandwidth of more than 50 Mbps over eight copper pairs to as far as 24,000 feet from the central office.
If an ILEC simply inserts an Aktino repeater at the midpoint of a span, the telco can deliver much higher bandwidths to remote copper-fed DSLAMs, cell sites, and business customers.
The repeater, available later this summer, allows carriers to serve a footprint far larger than the typical 12,000-foot-radius Carrier Serving Area (CSA), the standard reference for copper-based services. It broadens the effective CSA from a circle of 16 square miles to a circle of 64 square miles, a four-fold increase.
Aktino achieves this high bandwidth-over-longer-distance-feat by using a combination of asymmetric transmission combined with its MIMO (Multi-Input-Multi-Output) on DMT (News - Alert) (Discrete MultiTone)technology for high per-pair bandwidth.
MIMO (Multi-Input-Multi-Output) is a set of signal processing technologies used in multichannel communication systems. For example, wireless MIMO techniques have been used in multiple transmit and multiple receive antennas. In particular, MIMO signal processing is able to mitigate the interference induced from one channel to the next, (e.g., one antenna to the next) thereby enabling reliable multichannel communication. Without MIMO signal processing, the benefits of multi-antenna systems would vanish, primarily because of uncontrolled cross-channel interference. The same principles can be applied to copper pairs, thus reducing interference (crosstalk) among the bundled twisted pairs carrying broadband transmissions.
The asymmetric approach — unique to Aktino — enables carriers to tailor their bandwidth to customer needs, and with the new repeater, the reach of that bandwidth is vastly expanded. Normally, extending the “reach” or distance of the lines causes the per-pair bandwidth rate to decrease, but with the new Aktino repeater, this effect is mitigated. Thus, service providers can implement a network-wide service delivery strategy, rather than be limited to the traditional CSA service territory.
The line-powered repeater is suited for outdoor use and will be available for the eight-pair Ethernet product family initially. It uses the same MIMO on DMT technology that put Aktino on the map some time ago in relation to delivering high throughput over copper. Aktino developed the repeater to address service providers’ increasing demand for products that cost-effectively address the needs of long-reach backhaul applications, as well as to extend the coverage area for Ethernet services.
This is the second major announcement Aktino made this month. Earlier, it announced how it can achieve a bandwidth of 100 Mbps over 16 copper pairs for DS3 and Ethernet-based backhaul and other applications. The 100 Mbps capacity covers the entire CSA using asymmetric transmission, and shorter reaches with symmetric transmission. Aktino’s planned 16-pair version of the repeater will double the reach of those industry-leading capacities to 30,000 feet.
The ability for broadband providers to reach 24,000 feet using Aktino technology is a boon to carriers looking to backhaul traffic from very remote DSLAMs or cellsites, or who want to reach distant customers to provide Ethernet or high-bandwidth services.
Richard Grigonis (News - Alert) is Executive Editor of TMC’s IP Communications Group. To read more of Richard’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

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