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Assia gets carrier funding to make DSL faster, more polite

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DSL is about to get a lot faster. But before it does, it has to learn to be polite.

Furthering the evolution of Dynamic Spectrum Management (DSM) technology, which boosts DSL performance by improving its signal-to-noise ratio, Assia, whose DSL management software is widely used across the globe, has announced a new round of funding, mainly from its major carrier customers, to take DSM technology to the next level.

The $10 million round Assia announced today came from new investors Mingly China Growth Fund and SFR Development (a unit of French mobile operator SFR) together with previous investors Swisscom Ventures, Stanford University, and T-Venture. Assia may follow up with a $15-million injection as part of the same round early next year, possibly with North American investors.

Assia (which, in addition to selling management software, has also licensed its DSM intellectual property to chip vendors) plans to use its new funding to speed the commercial development of the next evolution of DSM -- level 2 -- which introduces “politeness” to DSL lines, according to Assia CEO John Cioffi. Whereas level 1 DSM manages the signals of individual lines, level 2 takes a broader view, reducing excess power consumption on a line-by-line basis so that energy can be applied where needed in the network without being wasted.

Some carriers have already started using level-2 DSM, but Assia aims to give it wider commercial availability. Eighty percent of DSL lines today use twice as much power as they need, which increases the noise on the entire network. Reducing that power consumption with level 2 DSM yields a 40% performance improvement on average, Cioffi said, while reducing call center volume and truck rolls.

In two or three years, DSM will reach level 3, which is sometimes called vectoring. That technology coordinates the activity of multiple lines to reduce crosstalk, resulting in what Cioffi calls “an enormous jump” in performance – perhaps increasing the data rate by a factor of three or four. Last month the ITU consented its so-called “g.vector” standard, meaning that the most important aspects have been agreed to, which should encourage greater vendor activity in the space. Although level 2 DSM will interoperate with many existing IP DSLAMs, level 3 will likely require all new equipment to be deployed.

This spring, Ericsson claimed to have reached 500-megabit-per-second speeds in a laboratory setting using vectoring with VDSL2. And in September, a consortium of equipment vendors said vectoring had tripled the reach of VDSL2 in tests.

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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