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Broadband: Technology comparison

A comparison of broadband technologies presents features of each solution and helps decisions on the best solution for different regions.

Full FTTH coverage for three rural villages in Drnje, Croatia

With DSL, cable access, the optical fibre technology, radio broadcasts and new mobile standards, a variety of broadband technologies are available on the market that ensure reliable broadband services. However, it is important to choose a technology that is suitable for the individual region. Below, the main characteristics of each technology are summarised. An overview table allows for quick comparison at a glance.

Wired Broadband Technologies

ADSL, ADSL2, ADSL2+

Downstream/Upstream rate: 24/3 Mbps

Efficiency range: 5 km

Infrastructure Architecture: internet access by transmitting digital data over the wires of a local telephone network copper line terminates at telephone exchange

Suitability: use of existing telephone infrastructure; fast to install; small efficiency range due to the line resistance of copper connection lines

VDSL, VDSL2, Vectoring, 35b Supervectoring

Downstream/Upstream rate: 250/40 Mbps

Efficiency range: 1 km

Infrastructure Architecture: internet access by transmitting digital data over the wires of a local telephone network copper line terminates at street cabinet (VDSL); Vectoring allows elimination of cross talks for higher bandwidths.

Suitability: use of existing telephone infrastructure; fast to install; small efficiency range due to the line resistance of copper connection lines

Future of the technology: further speed and range improvements by enhancing and combining new DSL-based technologies (phantom mode, bonding, vectoring); bridge technology towards complete fibre optic cable infrastructure

G.Fast

Downstream/Upstream rate: Gbps bandwidths possible

Efficiency range: 100 m

Infrastructure Architecture: G.Fast: Frequency increase up to 212 MHz to achieve higher bandwidt

Suitability: use of existing telephone infrastructure; fast to install; small efficiency range due to the line resistance of copper connection lines

Future of the technology: further speed and range improvements by enhancing and combining new DSL-based technologies (phantom mode, bonding, vectoring); bridge technology towards complete fibre optic cable infrastructure

CATV & DOCSIS

Downstream/Upstream rate: 1 Gbps/200 Mbps

Efficiency range: 2-100 km

Infrastructure Architecture: coaxial cable in the streets and buildings; fibre at the feeder segments. Network extensions to provide backward channel functionality

Suitability: use of existing cable television infrastructure; fast to install; high transmission rates

Future of the technology: Further implementation of new standards (DOCSIS 3.1 & 4.0) allow provisions of higher bandwidth to end-users

Optical Fibre Cable

Downstream/Upstream rate: 10/10 Gbps (and more)

Efficiency range: 10-60 km

Infrastructure Architecture: signal transmission via fibre; distribution of signals by electrically powered network equipment or unpowered optical splitters

Suitability: highest bandwidth capacities; high efficiency range; high investment costs; bandwidth depends on the transformation of the optical into electronic signals at the curb (FTTC), building (FTTB) or home (FTTH)

Future of the technology: Next generation technology to meet future bandwidth demands

Wireless Broadband Technologies

LTE (Advanced) (4G)

Downstream/Upstream rate: 300/75 Mbps

Efficiency range: 3-6 km

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: highly suitable for coverage of remote areas (esp. 800 MHz); quickly and easily implementable; shared medium; limited frequencies

Future of the technology: commercial deployment of new standards with additional features (HSPA+, 5G) and provision of more frequency spectrum blocks (490 - 700 MHz); meets future needs of mobility and bandwidth accessing NGA-Services

HSPA/HSPA+ (3G)

Downstream/Upstream rate: 42,2 / 5,76 Mbps, 337 Mbps / 34 Mbps

Efficiency range: 3 km

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: highly suitable for coverage of remote areas (esp. 800 MHz); quickly and easily implementable; shared medium; limited frequencies

Future of the technology: commercial deployment of new standards with additional features (HSPA+, 5G) and provision of more frequency spectrum blocks (490 - 700 MHz); meets future needs of mobility and bandwidth accessing NGA-Services

5G

Downstream/Upstream rate: 10/1 Gbps

Efficiency range: 3-6 km

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: high achievable data rates; low latency; high reliability; higher frequency bands; advanced multi-antenna transmission; handling of extreme device densities; flexible spectrum usage

Future of the technology: meets future needs of mobility and bandwidth accessing NGA-services; enables connectivity for a wide range of new applications

Satellite

Downstream/Upstream rate: 30/10 Mbps

Efficiency range: High

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: highly suitable for coverage of remote areas; quickly and easily implementable; run time latency; asymmetrical

Future of the technology: 30 Mbps by 2020 based on next generation of high-throughput satellites

Leo Satellites

Downstream/Upstream rate: Signal distribution to user via WiFi/LTE/HSPA

Efficiency range: --

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: reduced latency; affordable internet access possible; controlling by the necessary ground stations of non-stationary flying satellites is very challenging

Future of the technology: internet service for very rural and remote areas possible

INTERNET balloons

Downstream/Upstream rate: Signal distribution to user via WiFi/LTE/HSPA

Efficiency range: --

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: currently in a testing phase; challenging controlling; controlling by the necessary ground stations of non-stationary flying balloons is very challenging

Future of the technology: internet service for very rural and remote areas possible

Wi-Fi (802.11n) (IEEE 802.11ad)

Downstream/Upstream rate: 600/600 Mbps (802.11n); 6.7 Gbps (IEEE 802.11ad)

Efficiency range: indoor 70/ outdoor 250 m (802.11n); 3.3 m (IEEE 802.11ad)

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: inexpensive and proven; quickly and easily implementable; small efficiency range; shared medium

Future of the technology: increased use of hotspots at central places

WiMAX (IEEE802.16e)

Downstream/Upstream rate: 6/4 Mbps; 70 Mbps (IEEE802.16e)

Efficiency range: 60 km

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching system

Suitability: inexpensive and proven; quickly and easily implementable; small efficiency range; shared medium

Future of the technology: gets continually replaced by Wi-Fi and LTE and plays therefore no significant role anymore; further developments are therefore not expected

Lifi

Downstream/Upstream rate: max. 224 Gbps

Efficiency range: several meters

Infrastructure Architecture: mobile devices send and receive radio signals with any number of cell site base stations fitted with microwave antennas; sites connected to a cabled communication network and switching syste

Suitability: only delivers communication over short ranges; low reliability; high installation costs; cheaper than Wi-Fi; only effective and permanent within closed rooms

Future of the technology: useful in electromagnetic sensitive areas such as in aircraft cabins, hospitals and nuclear power plants without causing electromagnetic interference

Latest

European Commission joins forces to help bringing more broadband in rural areas

The European Commission together with the Member States have set up Broadband Competence Offices to advise local and regional authorities on ways to develop broadband, and help citizens and businesses get better internet. At the same time the Commission presented a 5 point toolkit on how to bring better broadband in rural areas of the EU.

Winners of the European Broadband Awards 2017

European Broadband Awards 2017 winners were announced at the Award Ceremony on 20 November. The European Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Crețu and Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, Phil Hogan awarded the five winners in Brussels. The five projects were selected in five categories focusing on innovative models of financing, cost reduction, territorial cohesion, socio-economic impact and competition. These projects are exemplary projects for the other regions and organisations planning broadband rollout.

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