In a recent webinar organized by the Marconi Society, I was asked if it is possible to deliver broadband access speeds of a Gigabit per second to a Billion people before the end of this decade. My answer was that this is entirely possible with only a modest level of investment, and with only incremental upgrades of the existing infrastructure.
Beginning with the current state of broadband access, the spread of 100 Megabit/s services is already evident. Within 3 years, 24 million Germans shall have highly reliable 100 Megabit/s speeds using vectored VDSL (invented by ASSIA engineers). Soon, they will be joined by millions more in Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Australia, as well as by AT&T customers in the USA.
Then, consider the effects of the proliferation of Wi-Fi access points. In urban areas, a Wi-Fi device can on average see 24 Wi-Fi Access Points. Even in suburban areas, a Wi-Fi device can on average see six Wi-Fi Access Points. Modern Wi-Fi supports up to 23 non-overlapping channels, each capable of 108 Mbps. Using 20 such channels, each delivering 100 Mbps, gives you a transmission medium capable of a combined throughput of 2 Gbps, if each of the fixed-access DSLs behind them supports that 108 Mbps.
Can vectored VDSL be married with Wi-Fi to deliver Gigabit/s broadband connections? Yes, that is possible with no new hardware, no large constructions costs, and only using existing technologies. The key for realizing such speeds is a technology called IP Layer Bonding.
IP Layer Bonding (demonstrated in the above figure) is a software solution for aggregating broadband connections serving a consumer device. Any collection of internet links can be bonded together, for example links using DSL and Wi-Fi, or even links using LTE. The solution includes client software on the consumer device and server software residing in the cloud, which work together to bond the multiple connections and to accelerate all types of consumer applications.
Consider the example of three living units, each served by three individual Vectored VDSL links and 802.11a Wi-Fi, each at 108 Mbps. Any device within the three living units then has access to a peak rate of 3 x 108 Mbps or 324 Mbps! Increase of the number of living units that share their fixed broadband links, and/or boost of the DSL speeds with vectoring, and Gigabit/s speeds are within reach for a fraction of the cost of deploying fiber.