DSL has Jumped the Shark

I came to the conclusion about six months ago that the current generation of commonly used wireless gear (Motorola Canopy and 802.11a/g based gear) is already providing equivalent or better speeds than the DSL that is generally available in the US.

You are going to see a lot of higher speed DSL advertised, but it is not often delivered if you have a loop over 4000-5000 feet or so.   I used to resell some Qwest DSL and have done a fair amount of troubleshooting on it.  What is interesting, is that when you get into the nuts and bolts of troubleshooting a DSL modem, you end up with db readings for signal and noise, just like you see on a wireless deployment.  Based on the readings I saw during troubleshooting, I would take unlicensed wireless over the majority of DSL loops any day.   Most copper plant, especially in rural areas but sometimes in urban areas as well, is not in good shape and it is not being updated.  The copper plant is slowly deteriorating and the telcos cannot build out fiber fast enough to counteract the deterioration – and they have no incentive to upgrade the copper now because they are going to be replacing it relatively soon anyway.

This only takes the physical plant into consideration.   Most DSL providers (including the big guys) are oversubscribed on their DSLAMs and Infrastructure points, creating another set of bottlenecks.   It is a lot easier to upgrade a fixed wireless plant to higher speeds than copper plant, so wireless has a big advantage there also.


PS – Anyone who doesn’t get the “jumped the shark” reference – here you go.


2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. In all fairness, there are DSL providers who do things correctly…

    My parents switch from the local WISP to DSL because 1.5/384 DSL with high reliability is superior to 512k fixed wireless on a Qwest backbone with an oversubscribed last mile. I know my story isn’t the norm with the company but Verizon actually groomed my line so we can hold a decent 1.5 Mbit connection at 20,610 wire feet from the CO. It probably helps that we’re on 22 AWG or better all the way (we’re right on the highway) and I’ll say right up front that higher speeds are available over wireless with the correct tech in place, but the DSL experience so far has been one without oversubscription, noise issues, etc. despite the fact that the SNR on the modem is currently sitting at 7.0.

    One more thing: copper pairs have very good foliage penetration :-)

  2. I just spent three hours today trying to troubleshoot a Qwest Business DSL line that has been down for four months. It is a backup connection in a remote town (and fortunately hasn’t been needed) but it just blows me away that there has been a problem in either their DSLAM or outside wiring and constant errors on the line but no effort at all to fix it. We proactively monitor customer devices at my WISP and have an automated system that calls anyone who has been down for over 24 hours. If someone is down, we are aware of it!

    It was a six hour round trip to the remote location, and the best they could do was send somebody over to look at the problem – tomorrow. ARG! At least I have someone local now that can be there “in case” they need physical access to the inside wiring so I don’t have to waste another day driving. Thanks a lot Qwest.

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