Offering really high speed fixed broadband to all who need it would seem to mandate rolling out optical fibre to the customers’ premises, according to the industry and a number of operators and equipment manufacturers are trying to show this is true – but only up to a point.
They point to a bewildering array of technology and economic options for upgrading broadband networks, with emerging standards and technologies targeting legacy ‘last mile’ copper connections.
One of the most promising is G.Fast, a DSL variant that essentially extends the frequency range and thus the capabilities of copper, promising operators the potential of offering fibre-like speeds without having to make the huge investments needed to take optics directly to homes and offices.
The operators that have to date done most of the heavy lifting to get G.Fast standardized at the ITU and trialling the technology, believing it makes economic sense in the medium term to sweat their copper assets to the maximum, include AT&T, Swisscom, Deutsche Telekom, Canadian carrier Telus, Israeli carrier Bezeq and, most enthusiastically, BT. These are strongly supported by some of the biggest names in the communications equipment sector, including Adtran, Huawei and Nokia (via its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.)
The three semiconductor groups best established with chip-sets and reference designs for G.Fast are Sckipio, Broadcom and Ikanos, the latter acquired by Qualcomm last August but, reportedly, its DSL operation shut down several weeks ago.
Last year, Intel made an undisclosed but strategic investment in Israeli start-up Sckipio, which was established some five years ago to exploit the potential of G.Fast (see main copy).
According to Trevor Linney, BT’s head of access network research, “G.Fast has become an integral part of our plans for ultra-fast broadband, and we are really encouraged by the progress by our partners, and with the latest feedback from the various trials that we have been conducting.”
He told New Electronics the operator now plans to offer G.Fast-based services operating at data rates between 300-500Mbit/s to 10 million UK premises by the end of the decade. Those of course are the download rates; unfortunately, the upload rates are nearer the 50Mbit/s mark.
As to effective reach, he suggests the optimal would be 300 metres, the typical distance between a street cabinet and the customer premises.
Initially, it was thought the technology would only perform to the necessary bit rates at about 100 metres. “But, working with industry and standardization efforts, we have achieved a repeated renaissance when it comes to speed and distance through improvements in cross talk interference, or vectoring. This, and the fact that we are now able to use significantly higher frequencies, has been key to the advances we are seeing,” Linney stressed.
Not that any of this has been plain sailing from a technological standpoint. “To squeeze out the maximum potential from the installed copper networks, there are two significant barriers to overcome. One is the length of the line, since signal strength will diminish as the distances become longer. Then there are problems due to interference between copper pairs.
“Really high speeds can only be achieved by deploying the highest possible frequency, but, unfortunately, the higher the frequency and the greater the noise, and consequently, the lower the capacity. All these factors needed very clever and intricate signal processing and maths to achieve the most efficient ‘rate verses reach’ ratio”, said Linney.
And all this had to be done while ensuring there was no interference at all with the existing VDSL2 technology used in the access network. Here the use of spectrum guard bands will play a crucial role.
The test network for G.fast tests layouts for the copper loop from the cabinet to the premise using a variety of configurations
He notes that vectoring – which uses Multiple Input, Multiple Output signal processing to mitigate crosstalk and allows single line performance – was optional for the current flavours of DSL, VDSL and VDSL2, but is mandatory for G.Fast.
As regards frequencies, VDSL works at either 17MHz or 30MHz, while the early version of G.Fast is designed to operate at 106MHz. There is an important tweak in the pipeline and being discussed in regulatory bodies that will double this to 212MHz, making use of some novel coding technologies under development.
Linney points to another significant challenge to any commercial roll-out of G.Fast –the availability of sufficient distribution ports on the current generation of DSLAMs. Eight to 16 ports was just not enough for deployment at the cabinet locations targeted by BT for a roll-out. Linney suggests at least 96 ports in distribution point (DP) units (where fibre from the central office meets the existing copper wires that connect residences) would be the ideal.
Here they would be deployed in existing street cabinets that already house the gear needed for vectoring capabilities, a scenario that would make G.Fast more commercially favourable for operators looking for alternatives to investing in FTTH or FTTP.
Such a scenario was boosted a few weeks ago when The Broadband Forum, the industry pressure group and standardisation body sanctioned the latest specifications to improve the performance of DPUs. Dubbed the TR-355 they target the management of FTTDp and comprise software modules written in the YANG data modelling language. This should allow operators to configure and control DPs remotely, and the Forum stressed this will “provide further stimulus for developing technologies such as G.Fast.”
Linney notes BT’ decision that it would go from typically 16 ports to at least 96, “generated sharp intakes of breath amongst many of our vendor partners. But the suppliers responded magnificently and such gear is now on most of the chip designers’ and equipment vendors’ product roadmaps,” he told New Electronics. The latter include companies such as Adtran, Huawei and Nokia, and Sckipio, who are all involved in at least one of the three field trials BT has been or is still conducting with G.Fast technology.
Huawei and Nokia have also provided trial CPE units for these field tests, as have Technicolor and Zinwell.
Large scale trials
BT has been conducting two large scale trials in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and Gosforth near Newcastle since the summer of 2015, with some 2000 premises signed up for both, and subsequently technology trials in Swansea where the focus has been on deploying the technology to ‘Multiple Dwelling Units’, or blocks of flats, as well as some business centres. Reports suggest over 75% of the lines were able to deliver over 300Mbit/s download, and 30-50Mbit’s upload. Just over a third of the lines were shorter than 100 metres, and about 15% were between 200 to 300 metres.
“The trials were positive and met all our and the vendors’ expectations. The next stage is to set up a pilot passing some 25,000 dwellings in two locations”, said Linney.
The trials also corroborated BT’s earlier decision not to roll out fibre to distribution points close to customers premises, as had been envisaged early on in the project, but to provide G.Fast from many of its 90,000 street cabinets dotted round the country. BT had previously said the former approach would have been ‘untenable’ from an economical viewpoint, with the operator having 4 million DP across the UK.
BT has indicated that rolling out G.Fast using the FTTC model could be managed within the carrier’s ‘existing capex envelope’, without offering any actual figures, and also stressed G.Fast would co-exist with VDSL2 for a long time.
Linney cautions that this is just the beginning of the G.Fast story. “The technology first emerged back in 2006 as part of a European Union collaborative project. Industry then started a standardization process at the ITU in 2011, which, while slow at times came up with the first specs G700 and G9701 in 2014. There have been some changes following further research and operational needs, with input from some 100 companies, notably here at BT, equipment suppliers such as Huawei and chip group Sckipio, We have overcome some big engineering challenges, but I foresee several more ahead.”
He suggests the key outstanding issues include enabling higher bits per tone, typically 15 rather than the 12-14 now; better receiver sensitivity (<-150dBm/Hz); increasing the transmit power from 4 to perhaps 8dBm; optimising the frequency usage with VDSL2; and increasing the vectoring group sizes to 96.
And BT is already one of the major proponents, together with Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs, of a follow-on variant dubbed XG.Fastthatat the operator’s Adastral Park research facility and Bell Labs’Antwerp, Belgiumtechnology group – has delivered 5Gbits/s over 35 meters and data rates of 1.8 Gbit/s over longer copper loops measuring 100 meters.“This, of course is a research project, but it does signpost that copper has the potential to deliver even higher speeds.”
As of now, though, this would not help in getting ultra-fast broadband over longer distances, since XG.Fast operates at 500MHz.
So, while G.Fast is no panacea, it is likely to play a key role in helping operators upgrade the access network in the near future. But in the longer term, there is little doubt fibre will win out.
Article courtesy of Newelectronics: http://bit.ly/2fnScFg
MUSING ON THE future of the economy earlier this year, Bill Gates warned of smart machines replacing human workers and suggested a tax on robots. A new study of how technology is changing American jobs suggests workers are most immediately challenged by more common technology that Gates himself bears much responsibility for, such as Microsoft Office.
The new study from the Brookings Institution used government data on work tasks to track how use of digital tools changed in a wide range of occupations between 2002 and 2016. Use of digital technology, such as computers and spreadsheets, became more important to occupations of all kinds. But the most dramatic changes were felt in jobs traditionally least reliant on technology skills—think of home health aides and truck mechanics using computers to diagnose problems or record their work.
The Brookings’ study created a “digitalisation” score for 545 occupations covering 90 percent of the economy, using government survey data that asks workers about their knowledge of computers, and how much they use them. In 2002, 56 percent of jobs scored low on Brookings’ digitalisation scale; by 2016, only 30 percent did. Nearly two-thirds of new jobs created since 2010 required high or medium digital skills, the report says. That shift is problematic given America’s long-established deficit in basic digital skills, such as familiarity with spreadsheets or other workplace software, where US workers score well below other those from other advanced economies.
Overall, the Brookings report suggests the window of opportunity for workers without basic digital skills or a college degree is closing. “With the availability of jobs that require no to very low digital skills dwindling, economic inclusion is now contingent on digital readiness among workers,” says Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings who led the study. “While tech empowers it also polarises.” He recommends that companies, government officials, and educational groups invest in programs that train workers in basic digital workplace tools.
That diagnosis and proposed remedy stand in contrast to two common prescriptions for how to help the US economy adapt to technological change. Gates and many other tech executives suggest new government programs to support workers displaced by a coming generation of smart robots. In recent years there has been a swell of support, including from the Obama administration, for programs that teach people to code.
The new Brookings data suggests the US faces a more immediate, and perhaps less glamorous task. “Coding for all is not quite the right model,” says Muro. “It’s less sexy, but we need much broader exposure and mastery of humbler, everyday software.” Maybe not everyone needs to be a code slinger, but word processing and enterprise packages like Salesforce are hard to avoid.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai made a similar argument last month, when he launched a $1 billion educational program focused on helping workers skill up in workplace technology. Google employees will offer training in cities around the US. Naturally, they’ll highlight products such as GSuite, Google’s competitor to Microsoft office.
The digital-skills crunch has been a long time brewing. Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, says that IT’s impact on US businesses surged in the mid-to-late ’90s—not coincidentally around the same time US median wages began to stagnate. In 1996, President Clinton announced a “national mission” to make all US children technologically literate by 21st Century. The Brookings report shows there is still a way to go. “We could have done a lot better,” says Brynjolfsson.
Article courtesy of https://www.wired.com/
Technology will have a profound effect on future employment and the workplace according to a newly launched report from CBRE, called ‘Real Estate and the Community – Mapping Outcomes for the Future’. The report examines the relationship between buildings and their surrounding environments, focusing on how global trends will change the way buildings are developed and managed in the future.
The core global trends to emerge are:
Innovation and Technology - Up to 60% of jobs, 10 years from now, have yet to be invented. It means buildings require inbuilt connectivity and flexibility or face becoming obsolete.
Automation and artificial intelligence is shifting the way
we think about work and carry out our duties. According to futurists, some of the
high risk jobs include accounts clerks, librarians, watch repairers and bank
Increasingly, employees expect to work in more informal
environments which are flexible and ‘human’. Employers are encouraged to
provide workspaces that fit staff lifestyle choices. To successfully meet these
future challenges, buildings must become highly flexible spaces, capable of
sustaining anything from five to 10 different adaptations over the typical
25-year life cycle of investment.
Connectivity and Accessibility – The average age of a newly
qualified driver is now 28 years old across Europe. As a result workplaces
increasingly need to be in close proximity to quality public transport
The built environment continues to change. Historically the
focus was private and individual mobility. The result was suburbia, out-of-town
retail and office parks, with investment largely channelled to road
Today, investment exploits urban dense areas paying close
attention to public transport interchange. The concept is that individual
mobility is superseded by connectivity – via investment in public transport
infrastructure – and accessibility.
Looking ahead, locations with the best connectivity and
accessibility will accrue the most employees, making these locations highly
desirable for businesses. In contrast, those locations with poor connectivity
will have lower employment densities.
Urban Consolidation – In 2050, the global population is
predicted to be 9.6 billion, according to the United Nations. The migration
from rural to metropolitan living is creating an extraordinary number of mega
cities across the world. It means the physical location of an asset needs to be
connected to the masses.
Urbanisation will continue to have a significant impact on
personal and professional space. Cities ultimately drive commerce due to the agglomeration
of people, skills and innovation. For buildings, this equates to efficient
space optimisation via open plan layouts and hot desking. It’s also creating
increased numbers of mixed-use buildings which are efficient as they have mass
“‘Location, location, location’ has been the
real estate mantra for many years. The future norm is in fact ‘connectivity,
connectivity, connectivity’. To survive, and thrive, buildings and workplaces
must adapt to cater for the changing global demographics. Simply, the future is
coming so our success or failure is determined by how well we engage with it”,
Peter Dijkhuis - Director of Building Consultancy and Master Planning at CBRE,
Article courtesy of http://www.my-property-report.com
Without really noticing, the phone call has been slowly fading
out over the past few years. Only 15% of 16 to 24-year-olds consider it the
most important method of communication, compared with 36% who prefer instant
messaging. These teenagers who text when
in the same room are being called Generation Mute.
These specific millennials have seen the old ways of doing things and they are not having it. We will get used to seeing tons of people staring at smartphone screens, simultaneously messaging seven of their friends and colleagues with the grace and nimbleness of a concert pianist.
You have probably seen it yourself already when out for a romantic meal and the couple opposite don’t talk to each other the whole evening because they have their noses buried in their phones. When travelling on holiday, the two friends who never speak for practically a week because they share their experiences on social media instead of reflecting it over with each other.
Unfortunately, this may lead to many of them being crippled by repetitive strain injury in their texting thumbs but with new technology and 3D-printers they will easily be able to attach replacement digits by then, so probably nothing really to worry about. Not only that but what about the hearing implications and consequences that the inconspicuous head phones will ignite in the future generations relating to hearing loss.
When was the last time you saw anyone using a public phone box and what were you thinking if you did. Why on earth would they do that and what are they up to, surely something untoward and do any of them still even work?
I wonder if phone calls will go the same way as letter writing which is practically non existent these days unless used by old school, eccentric types or people who just have way too much time on their hands.
So is the death of the phone call imminent. None of us really like listening to the sound of your own voices so why inflict it on anyone else now that we have alternative forms of communication?
These are all things to ponder as time goes by, but personally a phone call to keep in touch with a loved one or simply hear another human at the other end is something worth keeping. Let’s face it technology is incredible but is it taking away the essence of what we really are, human beings?
Teleworking better known as remote working could help heal a global economy and it might even play a part in planetary salvation.
Business owners need to concentrate on the massive opportunities generated by teleworking and the benefits it can offer, for example.
When employees work outside the office or from home, there are huge cost savings in many areas. Property costs and related capital assets, utilities alone could save thousands if not millions depending on the size of the organisation.
And this is only the beginning. Other measurable benefits include continuity of operations during disasters, alleviation of traffic congestion, reductions in CO2 emissions, travel costs savings and energy consumption, along with remaining competitive in a global labour market that value work/life flexibility.
Teleworking has other amazing benefits, for instance, in a national event such as a "pandemic influenza outbreak or a biological terrorist attack", teleworkers can maintain continuity of operations from locations other than the office.
Another perk is that your organisation gains a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining the top talent. As younger workers demand state-of-the-art technological capabilities in the performance of their jobs. They have grown up with technology and have been educated with it. This generation won't take a step backward to work in an outdated technology environment. Many will not relocate in order to accept a job. Successful teleworking is directly correlated with higher job satisfaction, lower absenteeism and turnover costs.
If your organisation is looking into efficiencies, reducing over heads and cutting cost, teleworking could be the answer.
For a free consultation to discuss whether your organisation could benefit and how to go about implementation get in touch at www.segmetationgroup.com
We all continue
to use our devises when we enter a building and of course this is expected and
the norm. Well what about those hidden
areas though, the ones we have all experienced at some point for example in the
lift, basement, stairways, car park and even some cupboards.
When a disaster happens and there is no coverage in these often-hidden places, the results can be catastrophic and the consequences can be fatal. This is why there are now regulations in some cities to make sure that at least the emergency bands used by the police and fire and rescue will work in these specified areas. If not, a fire or terrorist attack can mean people inside cannot communicate in these dead zones which may lead to possible deaths.
So maybe it’s time to take necessary measures to ensure that buildings are built to the proper code for structure and safety and not to be overlooked just to save a few pounds. As in some cases, it can literally be the difference between or life and death.
Back in 2001 a book called "The Future of Wireless
Communications" predicted the following technology developments by 2020:
· A personal communicator that would book flights and allow you to check in at airports.
· A personalised news feed delivered to your communicator.
· A robot that mows the grass.
· A function allowing you to pre-order your cappuccino from a coffee chain and then direct you to its location.
Those predictions look pretty accurate and now the book's author, William Webb, a telecoms consultant, is publishing his vision of how the world will look in 10 years.
His predictions include:
· Virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa will play bigger roles in our lives.
· AI will have become extremely good at specific tasks.
· In the workplace facial-recognition technology replaces security staff and robot vacuum cleaners take away cleaning jobs.
· Retailing will be almost entirely online.
But mostly he is very cautious about the pace of change. He does not believe we will all have smart homes - "the benefits are not that great but the price is quite substantial" - and he is not convinced that autonomous cars will soon be cutting congestion in cities.
"It's a nice vision," he says. "I think we will see a very limited autonomy. In 10 years we might well see cars on the motorways but I don't think we will see that in city centres - it's just too complicated."
And as for general artificial intelligence able to complete a variety of tasks, he thinks that is a long way off.
We are told that technology is advancing at breakneck speed. But if William Webb is right it may take something of a breather over the next decade.
Article courtesy of Rory Cellan-Jones BBC News
Top 10 countries with the fastest internet speeds in the world compiled by Akamai every quarter, and these are the latest results from their 2017 Connectivity report:
1. South Korea – 28.6 Mb/s
2. Norway – 23.5 Mb/s
3. Sweden – 22.5 Mb/s
4. Hong Kong – 21.9 Mb/s
5. Switzerland – 21.7 Mb/s
6. Finland – 20.5 Mb/s
7. Singapore – 20.3 Mb/s
8. Japan – 20.2 Mb/s
9. Denmark – 20.1 Mb/s
10. United States – 18.7 Mb/s
These countries offer the best of the best in terms of average speed and provide a framework for internet users that is reflective of today’s most advanced technology.
At least six million loyal mobile phone contract holders are being charged for mobile phones they have already paid for and customers are completely unaware.
One in three customers on 'handset-inclusive' mobile phone contracts continue to pay beyond the minimum term of their contract and it’s about time something was done about it. These customers are paying on average of an additional, unnecessary £22 per month. This is because there are no rules enforcing providers to reduce the cost of the hardware once it is paid off.
Some providers will automatically reduce the cost of the monthly fee after the handset has effectively been paid off, however, others do not.
Because of this, Citizens Advice has called on three of the four largest mobile phone providers, Vodafone, EE and Three, to stop the practice. The regulator Ofcom backed Citizen's Advice's concerns and hinted it could take action next year. The Government has also called for changes by mobile phone providers.
So be aware mobile phone users, it may worth be checking your contracts to make sure you are not getting ripped off too.
The Yellow Pages will stop printing from January 2019 after more than five decades, its owner Yell has announced.
Yell has taken the decision to fully digitise the business, ending the
publication’s 51-year run. The first of the 104 final editions will be
distributed in Kingston in January 2018, and the last will be sent out a year
later in Brighton, where it was first published in 1966.
The company will print 23m copies of the final editions, which Yell hopes will become a souvenir.
Richard Hanscott, CEO of Yell said: ‘‘After 51 years in production Yellow Pages is a household name and we’re proud to say that we still have customers who’ve been with us from the very first Yellow Pages edition in 1966. How many brands can say they’ve had customers with them for over 50 years?”
The publication became famous for its advertisements, including the “JR Hartley” campaign in the 1980s and the “French Polisher”.
It was a vital tool for finding service providers and tradespeople, but the rise of social media and Google have reduced demand for printed directories.
Yell, part of Hibu Group, says it aspires to “help a million businesses be found, chosen and trusted by more customers online by 2020”.
Instead of the Yellow Pages, Yell will offer a free listing to businesses on yell.com.
“Like many businesses, Yell has found that succeeding in digital demands constant change and innovation,” Hanscott continued. “We’re well placed to continue to help local businesses and consumers be successful online, both now and in the future.’’
In recent years, the directory has caused environmental concerns, prompting the launch of the Say No to Phonebooks campaign in 2009, which called for an “opt-in” scheme whereby only those who want these directories left by their door would receive them.
At the time, the Yell Group, then maker of Yellow Pages, maintained it was “among the most sustainable companies in the world,” adding: “Our directories are produced in an environmentally responsible way and are 100% recyclable. In common with other members of the Data Publishers Association, we maintain an opt-out scheme that enables consumers to choose not to receive a directory.”
The Yellow Pages telephone directory came about in 1883 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, when a printer producing a directory ran out of white paper and used yellow instead. The first Yellow Pages publication was formed three years later.
In the UK in 1966, the Post Office first launched the directory, which later became part of British Telecom.
The Business Pages was launched in the mid 1980s when British Telecom was privatised by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government, growing in popularity with a series of funny adverts.
The group launched the first electronic delivery of classified directory information in 1987 alongside Talking Pages.
With the rise of the internet, Yell launched yell.co.uk in 1996, offering transactions on the site a year later.
BT sold the Yellow Pages for £2.1bn in 2001 to private equity companies, subsequently launching a new telephone service and bringing the number of Yellow Pages published to 102.
Article courtesy of The Guardian
Back on the 30th June 2016, the world's oldest emergency service - 999 - celebrated its 80th birthday.
The service began following a fire at a London doctor's surgery in November 1935 that resulted in the deaths of five women.
After the fire, a committee was set up to look at how telephone operators could identify emergency calls.
At that time, people with a phone at home who were subscribers on an automated exchange would call 0 for the operator to contact emergency services in the same way as they would make a regular call.
It was suggested that an easy-to-remember nationwide number be created for emergencies - the first suggestion was 707 (from the letters SOS on the phone dial). Then they considered 333 but finally settled on 999.
The 999 service began two years later, in 1937, handling more than 1,000 calls during its first week, a number that has grown to around 560,000 calls a week and around 30 million calls a year, according to BT.
call triggered flashing red lights and hooters to alert operators in the
exchange to give priority to the emergency call. The hooters were apparently so
loud that the operators pushed a tennis ball into the horn to reduce the volume
until modifications were made.
was extended to Glasgow in 1938 but the nationwide roll-out was delayed by the
arrival of the Second World War.
of emergency calls are made from mobile phones
Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle got the 999 service in 1946, all major towns and cities were covered by 1948 and every telephone exchange in Britain was automated to allow the service by 1976.
silly calls are now regular subjects of news stories but these were a feature
of the service from its very beginning. Even in the first week, of the 1,336
calls, there were 91 "alleged practical jokers".
Today, around 35% of calls do not involve requests for help - most of these are made by children playing with home phones or by people accidentally dialling 999 or the European emergency number 112.
times are around midnight on Fridays and Saturday, with the service taking
around 5,000 calls an hour but the early hours of New Year's Day can see up to
9,000 calls an hour.
Even so, call handlers manage to answer 97% of calls within five seconds.