Telefónica's HDTV over VDSL

Iñaki Ferreras

Spain's biggest telco Telefónica has opted to launch a VDSL2 network rather than fibre, using an intermediate technology while the economic crisis delays the roll out of fibre networks. From September 1, Telefónica will launch new packages of traditional telephony, internet and digital TV using this new technology.

VDSL2 will allow the company to offer fast upload and download speeds as well as high definition TV services through Imagenio, Telefónica’s IPTV platform.

The technology has some advantages over fibre optics, not least that it means no new network has to be built, just better technology over Telefónica’s existing copper infrastructure.

But it also has some limits such as while able to offer up to 100 Mbps for homes and premises for the first 300 metres from the exchange, this speed gets reduced the further away a home gets. At 2km, the operator can only offer a service similar to DSL. This is why the number of users for VDSL2 is limited.

According to the independent association regulating the Spanish telecommunications market, the Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT),

fewer than 10% of homes are at 300 metres from the area headend while 40% live at a distance that would allow speeds of only up to 25 Mbps.

But VDSL2 technology may become the only high-speed offer for a large number of users over the next few years. Fibre networks are unlikely to reach nationwide but instead just the most profitable areas. The rest will get similar services but all through VDSL2 technology.

For this to be possible, however, this technology will have to broaden its coverage. And this is where Telefónica is working at the moment. The connection between the headend and the node is made by fibre while the network to the home is made up of copper. This way the company connects the headend to its clients to give them VDSL2 with the same quality as if they were much closer to the infrastructure but at a much lower cost than having fiber directly to the home.

This the new technology allows speeds between 50 and 100 Mbps to the homes at 200-300 metres away from the headend. And the other advantage comes from the fact that the speed not only gets increased for the downloads but also to send information and data from the computer to the network.