Vectoring schmectoring

Recently, I was directed to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 2 May 2013, touting in uncritical fashion the supposed benefits of VDSL – Vectoring DSL.

Let me take issue…

The article quoted a proponent as saying:

“When you have multiple pairs that are interfering with each other, VDSL2 is limited to about 40 or 50Mbps even in the shortest loops. With vectoring you eliminate that ceiling. Over typical cable in a typical noise environment 100Mbps can be achieved over about 500 metres. If a lower speed can be tolerated, about 70Mbps, we can extend the range to about 700 metres. On really short loops, 350 metres, you’re talking about 150Mbps.”

They eliminate one ceiling – to get another, not three times distant. What that actually means, boys and girls, back here in the real world, is that on a clear day, with technology that is still in development, some people in some places might manage to get 150Mbps.

If you fall into one of the many categories of “stuffed”, on the other hand, like being on a long loop, or one with more than typical noise, or one with less than typical quality – you WON’T get that speed. In fact you won’t get anything remotely like that speed. And not only that, you never will – not until you replace the copper, move house, or persuade someone to shorten the local loop. And then you get a maximum of 150Mbps.

Or we could use fibre, and have a ceiling so far away we can’t see it with a telescope. Over almost any distance. With effectively no noise at all. Immune to electrical interference. That doesn’t corrode. That we can run gigabits on today if we wanted to.

Copper has no future. It barely has a present.

People keep comparing the two plans as if one were some kind of gold-plated luxury version, with the other being a no-frills version of basically the same thing. It’s NOT. The current version is already riddled with cost-cutting compromises. The only thing it doesn’t compromise on (much) is the idea that the physical infrastructure should be fibre all the way. Why? Because with fibre you have a future.

In other words, the current plan, for all it’s very many flaws, has a kernel of wisdom at its core, a saving grace. The alternative doesn’t even have that.

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