VDSL very expensive: analyst

Australian telco analyst Paul Budde says the main barrier to deploying VDSL is its cost.

Australian telco analyst Paul Budde says the main barrier to deploying VDSL is its cost.

He says very few people in the world are running the very fast variety of the DSL technology that runs Telecom’s JetStream and JetStart.

There’s lots of lab work being done, Budde says, but it’s only operating commercially in Canberra, Spain and the US, because it’s an expensive technology.

“Investment per customer is about $A5000, whereas ADSL is more like $A1500.”

TransACT’s rollout has been aided by “deep pocketed backers” like Actnew and the existing power pole infrastructure, he says.

The good news, Budde says, is that VDSL’s price is dropping. He believes the cost will halve over the next year. “Hopefully TransACT will be able to tap into those developments.”

VDSL comes in three configurations, the fastest of which can deliver 52Mbit/s upstream and 16Mbit/s downstream, but which requires a 300m gap between the user and the end of the fibre-optic cable. Other configurations allow 26Mbit/s at 1km and 13Mbit/s at the same distance with full ADSL compatibility.

TransACT chief architect Robin Eckermann says the technology was first developed by by a Siecor, a partnership between Siemens and Corning in the late 1980s before passing to US company BBT, who then sold it to Germany’s Bosch, before it was acquired by Marconi, the main technology supplier for the TransACT network.

VDSL has been around for some time, but there is still no universally agreed standard for the service. Two organisations, the VDSL Alliance and the VDSL Coalition, are battling for their respective technologies to become the norm for VDSL transmission.

The fact VDSL hasn’t yet been standardised doesn’t bother Eckermann. “Our network supports multiple VDSL standards — we could plug in equipment with different VDSL standards and it would co-exist.” He looks forward to the day a standard is agreed on, however, “because it will drive costs down”.

Another criticism levelled at VDSL is that it can interfere with amateur radio transmission, but Eckermann says radiation from lines carrying it is minimal and he has yet to hear of that happening in Canberra.

Tuanz chief executive Ernie Newman says VDSL could be applied in a New Zealand city.

“It’s a matter of finding the right investors and business case.”