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News recap: Bell Labs developing 10 Gbps technology

In telecom news, Bell Labs is developing new technology, while Comcast's merger with Time Warner Cable could be in trouble.

This week in telecom news, Bell Labs is working on technology that could increase DSL speeds over copper wire up to 10 Gbps. Meanwhile, Comcast's acquisition of Time Warner Cable could be in jeopardy as the Department of Justice is reportedly leaning against approving the merger.

Nokia is acquiring Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion in an all-stock deal, which will make Nokia the largest mobile and wireless equipment provider in the market and the second-largest telecom equipment vendor. And Verizon is forgoing traditional cable bundles with a new bundle that offers FiOS customers greater customization and flexibility.

Bell Labs working on technology

Bell Labs is developing technology that improves upon the current DSL standard to deliver up to 10 Gbps over copper wire.

Currently, delivers speeds up to 1 Gbps over two pairs of twisted copper wires, which are generally found in homes with two phone lines. Internet service providers see over copper as an attractive alternative to building out new fiber lines to deliver high-speed services in existing locations.

Ars Technica reported on a demo of the preliminary hardware, which is limited to a distance of 50 meters before performance drops rapidly. The technology is enough to service a residential address, however. The hardware runs at half-duplex and splits upstream and downstream data between channels. Developers say they are working on achieving full duplex at 9 Gbps.

Comcast acquisition in hot water

Comcast's $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable could be in trouble as the Department of Justice seems poised to reject the proposal.

Comcast is reportedly meeting with the DOJ this week to discuss what the cable provider needs to do in order to gain the department's approval. The proposed merger has come under intense scrutiny, as critics say the deal is too big and would give Comcast too much control over the cable and broadband markets. The deal would give Comcast control of a third of the cable market and 57% of the broadband market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The DOJ will review the proposed merger by examining the impact it would have on competition, as well as antitrust concerns. The Federal Communications Commission must also review regulatory issues raised by the merger. In order for the merger to happen, both agencies must approve the proposal.

Nokia to acquire Alcatel-Lucent, jumps to #2 telecom vendor

Nokia has agreed to buy Alcatel-Lucent for $16.6 billion in an all-stock deal to create the largest mobile equipment supplier.

The acquisition will give Nokia a more complete product portfolio by adding products used to transmit landline and Internet traffic, like optics and IP routers, to its current product line that includes small cells and Evolved Packet Core.

"We knew we were the best in mobile broadband, but we lacked the rest," Nokia Chairman Risto Siilasmaa said on a conference call. "We examined all options over many months, but Alcatel-Lucent was a unique opportunity."

The acquisition would make the company the second-largest telecom equipment vendor following Ericsson. Nokia must convince regulators and trade unions in Europe that the acquisition would not create a company that is too dominant in the market.

The company will retain the Nokia name, and Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes will leave the company, but remain a shareholder. Alcatel-Lucent shareholders will own 33.5% of the company and Nokia shareholders will own 66.5%. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2016.

Verizon to offer flexible cable bundles

Verizon is shaking up the traditional cable TV bundles by offering FiOS customers a flexible bundle that lets them pick and choose channels each month.

FiOS customers can buy a base channel bundle that includes local and basic channels like HGTV and the Food Network, then augment the bundle with "channel packs," which are channels with similar themes like a news pack that includes MSNBC and CNN. Customers have the option of swapping out the channel packs each month.

While other cable providers like Comcast and Dish offer similar skinny bundles, Verizon is the first to offer the flexibility of channel packs. While the bundles are appealing to Verizon's 5.6 million video subscribers, it may also appeal to cord cutters and customers of competitor cable providers.

The bundle includes the base channels and two channel packs and is available now. The standalone bundle will cost $54.99 per month, the double play bundle -- cable and Internet -- ranges from $64.99 to $84.99 depending on three tiers of broadband speeds, and the triple play bundle -- cable, Internet and phone -- ranges from $74.99 to $94.99 per month.

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