A large range of communication technologies with different technical capacities are capable of providing high-speed internet to households. Wired technologies include copper cable (xDSL), coaxial cable (e.g. HFC) and modern optical fibre cable (Fttx).
Copper wires are defined as “legacy telephone unshielded copper twisted pair”, providing broadband connections by using xDSL-technologies, such as ADSL/ADSL2+ (max. 24/1 down-/upstream rate within max. 5 km efficiency range) or VDSL/VDSL2 (with vectoring max. 100/40 down-/upstream rate within max. 1 km efficiency range).
The classical cable connection would be the two wires of a telephone line (‘twisted pair’), most prone to disturbance effects such as interferences. Broadband internet via coaxial cable is usually offered to customers via the existing cable TV network. The coaxial cable consists of a copper core and a copper-shielding coat. The TV cable networks are therefore much more efficient than the traditional telephone networks.
Optical fibre lines consist of cables of glass fibre connected to end-users’ homes (FTTH), buildings (FTTB) or street cabinets (FTTC). They allow for transmission rates of up to several Gbps within 10 to 60 km efficiency range. This is the best solution, requiring high investment in passive infrastructure.
Wired broadband infrastructure deployment is a cost and resource intensive option. Reducing the costs will encourage investments in broadband roll-out and lower the threshold for market entry.
Accessing alternative infrastructures, utilities networks and by using low-impact deployment strategies (such as trenching), wired broadband deployment may be sensibly reduced.
A terrestrial wireless broadband connectivity is usually provided by WiMax (4/4 Mbps down-/upstream rate within 60 km efficiency range), Wi-Fi (300/300 Mbps down-/upstream rate within 300 m efficiency range) or 4G/LTE (100/30 Mbps down-/upstream within 3 to 6 km efficiency range) solutions. Further improvements will focus on new standards with additional features and the provision of additional frequency spectrums (5G).
Whenever the upgrade of the wired infrastructure is not possible, and funds for FTTB/FTTH are not available for a certain area, an option is to build infrastructure for terrestrial wireless broadband, mainly antenna sites for point-to-multipoint connections (e.g. WiMax, Wi-Fi, 4G/LTE).
Satellite Broadband, also referred to as internet-by-satellite, is a high-speed bi-directional internet connection established via communications satellites instead of a telephone landline or other terrestrial means. Satellites are located in the geostationary orbit. The end customer sends and receives data via a satellite dish on the rooftop.
Next generation communication systems will most probably be the first instance of a truly converged network where wired and wireless communications will use the same infrastructure.
5G describes the next phase of mobile telecommunications standards beyond the current 4G/LTE. 5G should allow for an application end-to-end latency of 1 milliseconds or less, according to Ericsson white paper 2015.
Devices and applications will automatically select the network that best suits their needs. Industry and research expect a commercial roll-out of 5G in 2020.
Vectoring is a transmission method for the VDSL-technology to limit interferences on copper wires (cross talk cancellation). It is fast to install as it builds on the existing street cabinet infrastructure.
Besides the method of fault rectification through vectoring, in terms of achieving higher bandwidths on copper-based infrastructure, the method is pursued, to transmit signals at a higher frequencies range. G.fast is a technology which reaches, in combination with vectoring and the transmission of signals with 100 megahertz and more, bandwidths of several hundred Mbps via copper cable, however, only via relatively short distances (500/500 Mbps down-/upstream rate within 250 m efficiency range). Therefore, this technology is primarily intended to be used for FTTB infrastructures.
Research and development increasingly focus on All-internet Protocol Network (AIPN). This allows to improve communication and data transmission via Internet Protocol (IP)-based network technologies and services that include internet telephony or VoIP (Voice-over Internet Protocol).
IP-based data packet transmission allows the development of innovative services and applications independently from the underlying network infrastructure. 5G is a typical example of the convergence of mobile communication and parallel existing broadband network technologies.
Recent developments involve network infrastructures to be complemented by all-optical-networks, which will allow application- and content-routing and switching
A fourth strand of research includes the post-IP type of data transmission, which is characterised by:
Existing and future transmission rates, innovative methods of data compression and improvements to transmission standards will meet bandwidth-intensive services and applications. It should be noted that the compression method is always lossy in terms of quality of data (e.g. TV-formats, video conferences) and the secure transmission of critical applications (e.g. remote measurements and evaluations).