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1/3rd of America: Cable 10X Faster Than DSL
Thursday, 12 May 2011 23:20
Verizon can deliver 3 megabits, maximum, to Steve's house, a friend of a friend in California. Comcast down the road is offering 50 and 100 megabits. Steve's a computer guy who can use the speed and rich enough to pay the high price. About 100M Americans face a similar choice. Both Verizon and AT&T are winding down their network upgrades (FiOS, U-Verse) leaving 25-40% of customers on obsolete speeds for the foreseeable future. Century-Qwest and the regionals are even further behind for now, although looking to catch up.
    Cable's standard offering of 10 meg or so took over 65% of the net adds in the U.S. last quarter, and a higher percentage where DSL hasn't been upgraded. (Historically, cable in the U.S. has been 55%.) The cable lead is not inevitable; Telus in Canada is seeing DSL gain on cable, to the discomfort of investors in Canadian cablecos.
The trend toward cable has raised fears among policymakers that the U.S. will revert to a monopoly on broadband. That may happen in the obsolete DSL third of the country, although as the U.S. approached saturation in broadband overall the trend will take more than a decade to be significant in policy.  Telcos have an advantage in the quarter of the country getting fiber home, but DOCSIS 3.0 is holding it's own.
    The surprise in how well AT&T and Century-Qwest are doing with their VDSL from the node, which sells at 6-10 meg. With the U.S. cablecos keeping 50 meg service around $100, few are interested. Cablecos in Britain and France are charging well under $50 for what Comcast wants $100.
    Cablevision on Long island is experimenting with dropping the 50 meg price to $15 more than the 10 meg price.

(The Comcast salesperson was well-informed and a pleasure to deal with, outclassing most of the telco small business reps. That's one reason cablecos are gaining in the business market. If you're looking for Comcast service for business, email me for an introduction.)