Could copper be the answer to our broadband problem?

When people think of copper, telephone poles and outdated phone lines usually come to mind, but broadband research suggests the fastest internet speeds can be reached using existing copper infrastructure.

The head of Ericsson’s broadband division says a copper network could theoretically deliver speeds of up to 250 megabytes per second, without disrupting already existing phone lines, by extending copper lines to nodes built within close proximity to connected homes.

Ericsson’s Martin Mellor told The Australian that the network, which is a new version of an already existing technology called dynamic spectrum management, could theoretically reach speeds of up to 250MB/s, but would expect to see “50% to 60% of that being achieved in a real network, given copper quality, noise, disturbance on the lines, etc”.

CEO of Copper Development Centre, John Fennell, says the use of copper is so effective because the infrastructure is already in place. “So the nodes aren’t going to be more than 300 to 400 metres away from the house… if it’s well thought through and implemented, you’re increasing the bandwidth that you’re able to push down.

“The main thing that makes it cost effective compared to its alternatives is that the 50,000 electricians are all being brought up with copper, they know how to install it… so the cost of installation of copper is therefore a lot less than things like optic fibre.”

The Rudd Government has offered a $4.7 billion cash proposal to any company willing to construct the network, seeking to provide broadband to 98% of Australians.


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