So you think your 100Mbps fibre to the home (FTTH) links are the future, huh? Alcatel-Lucent sees you that and up you by a factor of one full hundred, using nothing but old fashioned copper telephone cables to boot. Its R&D department, Bell Labs, just announced the record breaking speeds with a prototype tech it’s calling XG-FAST, hitting 10Gbps both ways over a phone line.

Although the mammoth speeds were achieved under laboratory conditions using cables just 30m long (ie a lot shorter than your average phone line) Alcatel-Lucent is confident that the technology will work in the real world and could be used to hit 1Gbps speed using existing copper local loops.

From the press release:

Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs said: “Our constant aim is to push the limits of what is possible to ‘invent the future’, with breakthroughs that are 10 times better than are possible today. Our demonstration of 10 Gbps over copper is a prime example: by pushing broadband technology to its limits, operators can determine how they could deliver gigabit services over their existing networks, ensuring the availability of ultra-broadband access as widely and as economically as possible.”

Anecdotal interruption – when I was growing up my dad made a living selling commercial CCTV systems. He was told explicitly by engineers that transmitting live video over phone lines was physically impossible. Oh, how times have changed. 10Gbps is enough to simultaneously stream about 20 4K movies over the internet at a rate of about 500Mbps each.

Coincidentally, 500Mbps is exactly what Alcatel-Lucent reckons it can hit over 100m of copper line.

If commercialised, XG-FAST would be targetted at operators with fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) deployments, and then use existing telephone cables to bring superfast broadband to your door. Sadly in South Africa we don’t have local loop unbundling (LLU) which allows independent operators access to that critical last connection between house and street. Yet.

[Image – CC 2.0 Chang’r]
Adam is the Editorial Director at htxt media. He has been writing about technology for almost two full decades now. In a previous life, he was the editor of PC Format and Digital Camera Shopper in the UK, before going on to work as a freelance journalist for seven years. His work has appeared in or on Stuff, The Guardian, Linux Format, TechRadar,, PC Gamer, Green Futures, The Journalist, The Ecologist and The Review. Adam moved to South Africa in 2012 and loves 3D printers, MakerFairs and tech hubs. He hates seafood. None of his friends remember this when cooking.