The PhoneBoy Blog


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Why Cable Will Rule The Roost For A While in the USA

While I certainly can’t argue with the experience that Andy Abramson had in Europe with ADSL and how that might work here in the US, I don’t think it’s going to happen for a while for one simple reason: DSL loops are a hell of a lot longer here in the US. In many places, the phone lines are so far away from the CO they need a damned generator to run the phone lines in a power outage, as I found out a couple of weeks ago when I lost power for over 2 days!

Both DSL and Cable are distance sensitive, but DSL is far more so. 18,000 feet is the limit. I live quite a bit longer than 18,000 feet from the CO and so do a lot of other people. Only within the past couple of years have the US telcos rolled out remote terminals even capable of doing DSL. Heck, I’ve only become DSL-capable within the past 18 months or so. Guess what: because the remote terminal I am on is T1-fed (and not fiber-fed as it is in some places), I can’t get anything more than 1.5mb/s down and 1mb/s up. Not happening without a lot more build-out.

Certainly in the larger metro areas, the phone companies could start putting in ADSL2+ equipment and blow the doors off of what the cable guys can offer. Of course, even if you are in the metro areas, you may not be able to get DSL now. My mother-in-law works for a small CPA firm in Bellevue, WA. They are downtown, very near to the T-Mobile buildings off I-405 and I-90. About as downtown as it gets. Qwest was only able to give them 256kb/s DSL and it barely worked half the time. They could have gotten a T1, but it was too expensive. They weren’t willing to pay what Comcast was going to charge them to run cable into their office building. I had suggested going the EVDO route when they discovered that Clearwire was available. Now they are getting 1.5mb/s and it’s reliable.

While I would happily take DSL over Cable any day, right now Cable is able to deliver more speed in more places. And unless there’s a major breakthrough in technology and/or the telcos decide to start running fiber to the premises, that’s probably the way it’s going to be for the foreseeable future in the good ole US of A.


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