By Carl Nuzman, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs
At the end of last year, my fellow inventor Gerhard Kramer (who is now working at the Technical University in Munich, Germany) and I were honored with an Edison Patent Award from the Research and Development Council of New Jersey – for a recent patent in the VDSL2 Vectoring space. For me, this award recognizes the pioneering work of our entire Vectoring team, and highlights how much we’ve enjoyed helping to bring this exciting technology from imagination to reality.
Until recently, there was an expectation that the only way to meet the demand for increased bandwidth – to support services like video-on-demand and high-definition gaming – would be over fiber optics. With VDSL2 Vectoring technology, however, you can get to fast faster: you don’t have to wait for fiber optics to become economically viable to start getting high speeds today.
The idea is to leverage the old infrastructure that goes all the way back to the telephone – and reuse it in a more powerful way to carry modern services over time-tested telephone wires.
In DSL technology, you transmit data signals (Internet, video) over a copper wire; one wire might go to your home, and there’s another signal on another wire carrying a different video into your neighbor’s home. Some of the electromagnetic signals from one wire will couple into the other wire, however, and make it harder for them to transmit data. That phenomenon is called “crosstalk”.
The particular invention that received the award has to do with estimating these crosstalk signals. Once you estimate the levels of crosstalk, you can use signal processing to remove it, allowing much faster data transmission. For a consumer, all of this is happening behind the scenes, but the effect of Vectoring’s ability to cancel crosstalk becomes visible when your service provider offers a new, higher bandwidth service: 80 Mbps instead of 40 Mbps – for instance – using the telephone wires already connected to your house. Vectored VDSL can thus handle multiple high-definition television streams going into your home, and allow fast downloads of very large files.
At Bell Labs we take a lot of pride in history, going back to Alexander Graham Bell, the invention of the transistor and so many other great inventions patented over the years. While this particular invention doesn’t rise to that great standard, it still feels good to be part of a tradition of innovation in New Jersey that goes back 100 years…