|Photo credit: AFP
|Connecting fibre-optic cables in a junction box of an apartment building
Advances in cable modem and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH)
networks promise to dramatically increase the speeds
at which businesses and consumers can access Internet
content and applications. The cable television industry is
using DOCSIS 3.0 to offer theoretical download speeds
of up to 160 Mbit/s and upload speeds of 120 Mbit/s.
Some cable operators in the United States are already
offering speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s to large portions
of their coverage areas. Japan’s Cablenet is offering a
160-Mbit/s service tier and the United Kingdom’s Virgin
Media is piloting a 200-Mbit/s tier, with an eye towards
offering a 400-Mbit/s tier in the future.
Within the telephony industry, FTTH networks are
the current next-generation wireline alternative to (coaxial)
cable-based technologies. Fibre can offer very
high bandwidth to consumers and businesses. Some
FTTH providers are already delivering 1 Gbit/s to residential
customers in Hong Kong (China), the Republic
of Korea, Germany, Australia, Portugal, Amsterdam
(Netherlands), Japan, Sweden and the United States.
Meanwhile, wireless access networks based on 3G
and 4G technologies are making the Internet available
to more people. HSPA networks — commonly known as
3.5G networks — have proliferated in many countries.
Commercial WiMAX networks have been deployed
in more than 147 countries, covering 620 million people.
LTE, a technology that competes with WiMAX, also
enjoys widespread adoption by major carriers, but deployment
and operation of LTE networks is far behind
Backers of both WiMAX and LTE networking technologies
have applied for ITU’s IMT-Advanced certification,
which requires 100 Mbit/s mobile download and
1 Gbit/s fixed download speeds. WiMAX-Advanced and
LTE-Advanced, as they are now known, could be deployed
as early as 2012. These IMT-Advanced systems
are considered to be true 4G technologies.