EUREKA SUCCESS STORY > CELTIC 4GBB
Squeezing more data out of Internet wiring
Published on: 2013-04-18
In the near future, Internet and mobile users could expect a much faster, better and cheaper online experience thanks to a research project called 4th Generation Broadband - 4GBB.
The project was coordinated by Ericsson, the Sweden-based mobile communication firm, and developed in the frame of EUREKA CELTIC, a research initiative of the European telecom industry: it involved no less than twelve companies and universities for a total budget of 8 million euros. Henrik Almeida, a research manager at Ericsson and the coordinator of the 4GBB project, explains that its first aim was to bring high-capacity broadband Internet to the public at an affordable price. ‘From a technology point of view, the project can be viewed as the investigation of how much capacity you can squeeze out of a copper cable,’ Almeida says.
The new broadband technology will allow transferring information at gigabit-rate through already existing networks, and will ultimately close the gap between the present broadband technologies and the long-term scenario that leading Internet providers are working on, Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH), where Internet fibers reach all the way to our homes.
BENEFITS FOR THE ENVIRONEMENT AND FOR CONSUMERS
‘What’s important is that our clients are able to provide affordable and high capacity Internet services,’ says Almeida. ‘To achieve that, the idea is to activate the unused portion of the available infrastructure. There is a lot of copper out there that is not yet fully utilized, not only from the telephony network, but also in the structure of buildings. With our new technology, any of these copper cables can be reused with very high capacity.’
While it’s still difficult to determine how much profit Ericsson will make out of the project, the new technology that is still in a development stage might already be made available to consumers in the next five years. The 4GBB project
will help the European Union live up to its ambition to provide to 50% of households an Internet access of at least 100 Mb/s and a total Internet coverage at at least 30 Mb/s, as specified in the EU Commission’s 2020 digital agenda.
'THE PROJECT CAN BE DEFINED AS THE INVESTIGATION OF HOW MUCH CAPACITY YOU CAN SQUEEZE OUT OF
A COPPER CABLE.'
‘Thanks to this project, costly infrastructural investments in the part of the access network that is directly connected to households and companies, could be spared, and money could be spent for other important things such as healthcare and education. An increased broadband capacity would benefit to the European industry’s productivity, and also to society in many ways,’ Almeida tells us.
The number of digital consumers is expected to increase drastically in the future, raising concern on the environmental impact of energy-hungry Internet datacenters, but with the 4GBB technology, more Internet users will not necessarily mean a greater impact on the environment. As copper wires are available almost everywhere, small mobile broadband base-stations can be placed much closer to end users. This translates directly into a higher information transfer capacity for a lower energy output. ‘This is good for the environment as it can reduce power consumption,’ Almeida concludes.
Sweden, France, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom
Cost > EUR 8 million
Duration > 48 months