Broadband for all Faster broadband for everyone, everywhere
Standards developed by European researchers for high-speed broadband connections will make a vital contribution to the development of affordable high-capacity networks.
The achievement should mean that 80% of Europe's citizens would be able to access cost-effective 100 Mb/s bandwidth by the year 2010, according to researchers in the MUSE project.
The MUSE (Multi Service Access Everywhere) team focused on developing the architecture for next-generation broadband delivery to the home as part of the EU's strategic objective of encouraging the provision of affordable high-speed access to the internet for all.
The project, which started in January 2004 and ended in December 2007, took a holistic view of developing future networks, from the technical protocols that govern them to practical deployment solutions.
MUSE featured a who's who of European telecommunications and information technology players, including British Telecom, Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia and Siemens. The project developed a multi-service, multi-provider and multi-application architecture that it branded the 'Global System for Broadband' (GSB).
Like the GSM system that enables the mobile phone network in Europe, GSB would provide a standard system for next-generation broadband and is one of the key elements developed by the Muse team.
GSB would enable many providers to offer a wide range of services, like voice, data, video and the convergence of fixed and mobile communications.
The project made it easier for would-be companies to create and deploy, on-demand, multimedia, interactive services, such as competitions, games and pay-per-view that are currently only available from proprietary digital television services.
Perhaps most importantly, GSB is flexible. It was designed to be open, so that it could be adapted to work with services in the future. But MUSE went further than developing a universal system for broadband deployment.
The researchers studied the 'first mile', an industry term that signifies the link between the home to the communications service provider. This link is typically where the greatest cost is incurred, because one company typically controls it. The 'first mile' is the least competitive element in the broadband market.
Working on bringing down the cost, the MUSE team worked on standards that would improve digital subscriber line (DSL) access. DSL refers to digital data transmission over the lines provided by a local telephone network.
The team researched a 'switch on' broadband provision concept that would allow providers to simply turn on the service to a particular customer, without the need for an engineer's visit. It also developed systems for residential gateway services, which would route communications to the phone, computer, TV and even the fridge, for example.
Each connection provides a different service, such as voice for the telephone, video for the TV, the web for the computer and, potentially, online shopping so a fridge could be enabled to automatically make an order when food runs out.
The residential gateway could also drive a local area network (LAN), one formed within the home, so emails, calls, movies or other digital data can be routed to where you are, or exchanged with other members of the family.
The MUSE team successfully tested their work in lab trials and used the results to refine their research.
The research also played a huge role in setting new standards for broadband networks. The team worked with the DSL Forum, the Home Gateway Initiative, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), as well as the International Telecommunication Union, which is responsible for setting worldwide standards for broadband.
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