Researchers from Siemens have successfully tested technology that not only increases the speed of passive optical broadband connections to the home or office but also the radius of coverage.

The team of researchers, sponsored by the European Union, achieved downstream transmission rate of 10Gbps (bits per second) and upstream speed of 2.5Gbps over a passive optical access network, Siemens said on Monday.

By comparison, current gigabit passive optical network (GPON) technology supports downstream data rates of 2.5Gbps and upstream rates of 1.2Gbps.

In addition, the researchers were able to extend the distance between the hub and subscribers, the equivalent of the "local loop" in copper networks, from 20 kilometres to 100 kilometres. The number of subscriber lines per splitter, where the optical signal is divided up to serve more destinations, was also expanded from 64 to 512.

Numerous operators are keen to deploy high-speed broadband access systems that offer far greater speed than DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology, which uses existing copper twisted pairs to provide data rates of up to 50Mbps, Siemens said. Services such as VOD (video-on-demand) and HDTV (high-definition TV) perform best when delivered over fiber-optic subscriber lines.

At the same, new GPON systems eliminate the need for aggregation devices commonly used to collect and distribute data traffic locally. In the future, operators will be able to connect subscribers directly to the core network, Siemens said.

Earlier this year, Siemens researchers achieved a transmission speed of 107Gbps over a single optical fiber.

The speed, which the company claims sets a record for electrical processing of data through a fiber-optic cable, was reached over a 100-mile route.

Siemens has developed a new transmission and receiving system that is able to process data directly before and after its conversion into optical signals using electrical processing only. Current systems handling very high data rates have to split signals into multiple lower data-rate signals and later reconvert them from optical to electrical, a process that adds to costs and reduces network capacity.