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Cooperative backhaul aided next-generation digital subscriber loops

Using novel signal processing techniques to increase the capacity of our copper networks.

Project leader


October 2015 to December 2018



BT Group


Cisco has recently released its traffic forecast study, which suggests that the world will enter into the Zettabyte era in 2018. The UK generates and consumes approximately 10% of the entire global tele-traffic. We are one of the most data-dependent countries in the world. We need to:

  • meet the demand of exponentially growing tele-traffic
  • sustain the current level of economic growth

We need a high-quality digital infrastructure based on innovative and cost-efficient solutions.

Geo-economics and preservation of historic cities do not favour pervasive penetration of fibre. Thus, a lower-cost solution based on the improved exploitation of the existing copper network is essential. This would transform the digital infrastructure. It would support the next evolutionary step to Gigabit data rates.

Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL) are the dominant technology for broadband access. This has been the case since the 1980s. Given the vast copper network across the UK and the EU, penetration of fibre may be delayed for decades.

Copper may remain the best solution for heritage environments to prevent irreparable damage to historical street fabric. But the throughput achieved with state-of-the-art copper technology may represent less than 30% of capacity.

Our challenge is to:

  • conquer the entire, hitherto unexploited Very High Frequency (VHF) band
  • holistically design the amalgamated wire-line and wireless system

We will develop a fundamental understanding of the DSL channel over the entire 500 MHz VHF band. This understanding will lead to the design of radical signal processing techniques for tackling the critical challenges.

Thanks to BT's huge support, our research has a high immediate engineering impact and a long-term scientific adventure.