DSL Is Barely Hanging On The Line As Telcos Stop Selling New Service

Are you reading this over AT&T DSL right now? If so, you might have to upgrade or go shopping for a new ISP soon. AT&T quietly stopped selling new traditional DSLs on October 1st, though they will continue to sell their upgraded fiber-to-the-node version. This leaves a gigantic digital divide, as only 28% of AT&T’s 21-state territory has been built out with full fiber to the home, and the company says they have done almost all of the fiber expansion that they intend to do. AT&T’s upgraded DSL offering is a fiber and copper hybrid, where fiber ends at the network node closest to the subscriber’s home, and the local loop is still over copper or coax.

At about the same time, a report came out written jointly by members of the Communications Workers of America union and a digital inclusion advocacy group. The report alleges that AT&T targets wealthy and non-rural areas for full fiber upgrades, leaving the rest of the country in the dark.

As the internet has been the glue holding these unprecedented times together, this news comes as a slap in the face to many rural customers who are trying to work, attend school, and see doctors over various videoconferencing services.

If you live in a big enough city, chances are you haven’t thought of DSL for about twenty years, if ever. It may surprise you to learn of the popularity of ADSL in the United Kindom. ADSL the main source of broadband in the UK until 2017, having been offset by the rise of fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connections. However, this Ofcom report shows that in 2018 ADSL still made up more than a third of all UK broadband connections.

Why do people still have it, and what are they supposed to do in the States when it dries up?

What is DSL, Anyway?

Regular and splitterless ADSL. Image via The Free Dictionary

DSL stands for Digital Subscriber Line, and it’s essentially internet over copper. Up until the mid-1990s, many people accessed the internet by using modems of various baud rates, myself included. To use the modem, one had to tie up the phone line for the duration.

When DSL came out, it was not only faster than the fastest modem you could get at the big box store, you could use the DSL and talk on the phone at the same time. I personally never had a DSL. They were expensive, and by the time I was paying for my own internet, cable modems were gaining favor in the United States. They cost about as much per month, but were touted as being faster than DSLs. I wanted cable TV anyway, so it made sense.

DSL works by using frequencies above the voice frequencies, so it can coexist on the copper with the voice line. In order to keep DSL frequencies from bleeding over and echoing into voice calls, there are analog low-pass DSL filters, splitters, and combination filter-splitters that separate the lines. Before they reach the wider Internet, DSLs are aggregated at the central office into a Digital Subscriber Line Access Multiplexer, or DSLAM, and then fed into the switch.

DSL flavors

When people speak of modern DSLs, they are usually talking about Asynchronous DSL, or ADSL. The download speeds range from about 5-35 Mbps and uploads average 1-10 Mbps. The asymmetry is in the data throughput: upload speeds are slower than download speeds, because people usually do more downloading than uploading.

In Synchronous DSL (SDSL), the throughput is symmetrical. There is also VDSL and VDSL2 — two tiers of Very high-speed DSL. VDSL speeds can reach 52Mbps downstream and 16Mbps upstream, and VDSL2 maxes out around 100Mbps both ways.

This DSL filter-splitter will keep high frequencies out of your phone calls. Image via Wikimedia Commons

DSL also comes as “wet” or “dry”. If you have a wet DSL, the copper pairs also carry voice. A dry DSL has DSL only.  This nomenclature comes from early voice circuitry, which needed batteries to detect whenever you picked up the phone to dial. Dry loop lines weren’t connected to batteries, and got all the power they needed from the central office.

Leaving People in the Dark

The report by CWA and NDIA also accuses AT&T of “digital red-lining” in urban centers, which essentially favors the rich in cities like Cleveland and Detroit where fiber build-outs are concerned. AT&T naturally denies any so-called red-lining activity.

Some urban customers are lucky enough to have other options, like cable, fiber, or satellite access. But many people in rural areas don’t have the luxury of shopping around. Where AT&T is leaving or has already left, subscribers are forced to buy from the incumbent cable company or whatever else is available. They don’t have the luxury of shopping around for the best deal or even the fastest connection.

Dark Copper

AT&T aren’t the only ones abandoning DSL. Verizon is killing it off everywhere they have fiber service, and no new customers can buy DSL in FiOS territory. Plenty of people still rely on plain old DSL, and this is a terrible time to leave those customers in the lurch. It’s also a shame that so much copper is being left to rot in the elements when it could be taken over by municipalities that could use the lines to ensure that every home that still has copper can have some kind of internet access.

So, Hackaday, are we reaching you on old-fashioned AT&T DSL? What are your plans? If you have DSL and aren’t affected by this, what do you think of it? If nothing else, DSL is robust: it will even run over wet string.

170 thoughts on “DSL Is Barely Hanging On The Line As Telcos Stop Selling New Service

    1. Yeah whatever, in my experience DSL suffers badly when water gets into the wires, and guess what, the phone company is not interested in.fixing it. It really doesn’t matter how “great” the tech is, if you can’t get it to work.

      1. Had that problem for a while whenever there was a good rain I’d lose DSL. The CLEC (Competitive Local Exchange Carrier) refused to replace the compromised section of overhead line. When the pair I was on finally shorted out permanently, they just moved me over to a different pair in the damaged line and I still get problems when it rains hard. But it’s them or the much more expensive Cable One, and I *don’t want* TV and phone via cable when I can watch YouTube, Crackle and various other free streaming options plus 40+ ATSC free broadcast channels.

          1. Cable companies may have to maintain the integrity of their systems for ingress and egress of RF signals, but Spectrum barely maintains battery backup, node capacity, physical integrity of their plant, or their WiFi hotspots. At the prices they charge it’s inexcusable. Staying with Frontier DSL here.

            The article has a number of factual errors.

        1. No, he could mean wet as in containing water. One of the steps in my house’s 20+ year history of internet service was ADSL. We attempted to order 6 Mbps service but the carrier (not named because it’s a CLEC that is no longer in business; the lines were leased from Verizon) could only deliver 3 Mbps due to poor loop quality. And our service would fail during every heavy rainstorm. The way things went is like this: Our service would go out. We called the carrier to fix it. They would wait a few days to send a technician, at which point the lines had dried out and they could find no problem. Rinse and repeat. We finally had to concede defeat and we switched to Clearwire (another failure story for another day) and finally to Comcast (a company I really really didn’t want to do business with, and that should not exist in its current form: the Comcast/NBCU merger should have been shot down on antitrust grounds).

        2. Many years ago, when I was a tech, there was one area where we often had wet pairs that were leased from the phone company to service our customers. It was definitely a phone company problem. Also, my own phone line, several years ago, was noisy due to water getting in.

    2. Here in my part of Kentucky att is the only isp that services my area. No century or any others. Satellite is out because of trees and mountains, no line of sight. So no internet here . Att does not even allow hotspot use on phones. Now what?

      1. In your case dump ATT, as I did years ago. They never offer dial up internet service. No DSL until the local CATV, stared offering both internet and telephone service.. DSL was never an option for my rural resience

      2. I don’t see how ATT can stop you from using a phone hotspot. There are lots of apps that you can download to do it on any phone, but it’s also built right in to most phones. The only way Ian imagine they’d block your hotspot is by selling you a phone with it disabled. Buy your phone carrier free, sim unlocked, and it should just work. I did that on ATT for 2-3 years a while back.

        1. They are able to block it. The gateway monitors for the device’s TTL. If it’s different than the cell phone’s TTL, they know you are using the device as a hot spot. Change the TTL of your device to match that of a smart phone, and you get hot spot.

    3. I mean I have two cable companies here in Chicago.. but still choose to keep my VDSL2 service

      Cable is nice and all until you realize you’re only sharing 120Mbps upload for the entire node, and everyone happens to be doing zoom calls connoted to the same node

      $35 for 100/20 and no cap like Comcast? It’s more than fine.. been rock solid, and I have zero complaints.

      Most people I know clinging to ADSL1 have newer flavors available to them from AT&T. They’re just afraid they’ll end up paying more, or the lines may not be stable.. which in my experience.. AT&T is very conservative with what they’ll offer.

      1. AT&T 3Mbps DSL here. They’ve stopped selling new service, and offer NO alternative service. Their cell service is useless here, too. I live in a rural area, but less than a mile from Spectrum cable service, who refuses to expand because there’s “not enough profit in it.”

        1. It took many phone calls to my ghetto urban place with ADSL2+ to operate at maximum. Originally limited to 10mbps because AT&T wasn’t comfortable enabling a higher rate on my bill. Eventually speaking with an engineering rep I got them to uncap me — leading to blazing 17mbps speeds!

    4. You forgot about ISDN.. 64kbit/s (!) or 128kbit/s (combined channels). Yay! Besides, 1200 Baud is no joke. Here in Germany, Packet-Radio on the 11m Band was a great success since ca. 1994 or so. Lots of CBers enjoyed the freedom of sending/receiving e-mails, chatting and downloading software over the air waves.

      1. That would be basic rate ISDN (BRI). There was also primary rate ISDN (PRI), which was 24 64k channels (in North America). A PRI would typically be used with a PBX or a CSU.

        1. 20 years ago Ericsson HIS (Home Internet Solution) was a poor mans ISDN like technology. It was offered in Poland by incumbent monopoly telephony provider TPSA between 1999-2004 under “SDI” branding (Szybki Dostęp do Internetu = Fast Internet Access). By 2002 installed in >125K homes. Technology was outdated on release date, Ericsson didnt have any luck selling it to anyone else and finally moved manufacturing to Poland.
          HIS SDI was the first widely available dedicated internet connection in Poland. It revolutionized internet access, small amateur local lans started popping up all over the place with people sharing SDI subscription cost. I installed my own around 2000. Installation cost ~$250 = 2x minimum wage/~70% average salary, and ~$40 = 1/3 minimum wage/10% average salary monthly fee. Low salaries because Poland was still recovering from 40 years of Russian occupation, it would be 4 more years before we joined EU. The only alternative at the time was T1 line at ~$1K/month and couple $grand to install.

          Ericsson HIS connected to computer over RS232 offering 115.2 kb/s speed (no compression available), degraded to 70 kb/s when using telephone.

  1. I’m reading this on the day I’m upgrading my cable connection from 75/10 Mb to 500/20. I have worked in the telecom industry for many years and have always had my doubts about ADSL, as it’s so dependent on line quality and distance. I live a few blocks from the telephone company CO and one of my neighbours can’t get any better than 50 Mb download. I don’t know if she’s connected to a hybrid node or directly to the CO. I haven’t noticed any nodes between here and the CO though. One other difference is I’ve had IPv6 through my cable ISP for almost 5 years, but the local phone company still doesn’t provide it. I realize this is a business not technology issue, but illustrates one more way the service from my ISP is superior to the local phone company.

    1. Until the cable companies fix the 42MHz upstream limit, and deploy mid/high splits, I’m not interested in going back to cable. Sharing 120Mbps of upload with 50 other houses connected to the same node and working from home doesn’t end well.

      I currently could get “gigabit” from the cable company but have opted to stay with 100/20 VDSL2 as I know I’m not sharing that limited upload with my neighbors (I know the fiber at the curb is shared, but that much less likely to be oversubscribed than a node with 50 customers attached)

  2. I went to a trade school for Telecommunications, and after working with the ILEC/Telco’s in my area for near a decade now, I can tell you that if my area is any indication of the whole nobody at the top cares about copper anything even though it makes up a non-insignificant percentage of telco income.

    In my area, there is even a visible push at every turn to get people to give up their landlines and dsl in exchange for wireless service because there are nowhere near the regulations on wireless as there are on copper pairs.
    Basically, the sooner everyone gives up their landlines in Canada, the telco’s can basically kill entire sections of the CO that are so old that only the ‘old guys’ know how to run or fix anything.

    It doesn’t help that there is a serious problem at telco’s who are also ISP’s with management always seeing the new and shiny buzzwords with wireless service and fiber, just no longer caring about old technologies that they dont use or updateon a 3-5 cycle.

    1. At one of my past jobs it was almost a full time duty to just annoy telecos to fix issues with lines at our stores (roughly 50 of them). Between phone lines, DSL, and a few cable installs nearly every day we had at least one location with an outage that required hourly calls to find out what was going on and make sure they did not think they had fixed it without actually fixing it. A few locations would lose phones and internet twice a day for about an hour, and we could not get the telecom to care. It almost happened on a schedule (we suspected a train was involved for some reason) but since it took at least 2 hours to get a tech out there it was always “Fine when we test it”. Can’t believe we paid them money for that service, but they knew they had the only internet and phone service in town and cell modems were not a viable option.

  3. I live in chicago and literally see AT&T fiber boxs but i am still stuck with ADSL2+ and horribly slow 3 MBPS down. (As its the “fastest” avaliable in my area from them.)

    Worst part is i am no long a normal AT&T internet customer. I am one of their uverse customers.

    1. I live in rural farmland, miles from a cell tower but I have 400 Mbit internet for $70 a month because our local politicians know how to negotiate with the cable company. Maybe your fix is at the ballot box, every telecom will screw you over if you let them.

      1. A ballot box isn’t going to fix AT&T. They do whatever they want. But luckily in Chicago this poster also has RCN/WOW, or Comcast to choose from as well.

        The problem in Chicago is most buildings are MDU and getting an HOA or landlord to allow any sort of actual upgrade on the building is a mess in itself.

        My last place had fiber on the street, but the hoa complained and moaned about letting at$t install fiber because they had a kickback deal with Comcast.. and it was “good enough”

        1. RCN doesnt service my area. Honestly i have a house with comcast that i live at 3 days of the week. So i have been trying to get my parents to more to comcast becuase its cheaper and better.

    1. How does it compare price wise? Are they passing the savings on to you? Is the data unlimited?

      LTE could be an attractive option, but in many countries there’s often a volume cap. So you’re often better off taking the ADSL, even if it’s only a fraction of the speed.

      1. I think people will find the old way is better then the new way. Look how records then it was cd’s now people went back listening to records. I think people are going to find that copper is better then this fiber optic. Did you know if someone or something bends it it will brake the stuff inside of the cable? Did the government told you about that? Sometimes it is best to leave thing as is. How about the cell phone towers; what if they get knocked out from a bad storm? At least with a landline if you call 911 your address don’t come up like with a landline; a landline your address and name does a pear on the operators screen telling them where the call is coming from; but cell phones it will take them longer to find where the call came from. This is supposed to be USA not China or Russia. Just leave things as is. I don’t mind paying for a higher bill. I rather to use a landline then a cellphone too much people are getting hit in the parking lots because they have there minds on there phones instead of paying attention to what is going on around them. Sometime I swear people don’t think before that they do stuff. They just go on and do it anyway. What is the elders going to do they are so used to using the landlines then cellphones. I was growing up back in the 1980’s – 1990’s we had landline phones. I think that they are making a huge mistake. How about the people who don’t know how to use the Internet or don’t have a computer? My Grandma don’t know how to use the Internet or even a smart phone. I dislike smartphones because people still send you nudes through them and at least through the landlines you don’t have to worry about such things as you do with a smart phone.

  4. I am reading this over my Centurylink DSL connection. I just sent a link to this article to a friend who will read it over his Frontier DSL connection (AT&T isn’t the only provider). I thought he could use a good laugh….. especially the quoted link speeds. DSL is going to be around for a long time especially for those of us in rural areas. Don’t suggest Dish/Hughes Network….lag time and costs eliminate it from consideration. Starlink by SpaceX will be around $100 a month (nevermind what it is doing to the night sky). The government provided incentives to providers to lay fiber which some did but that is all they did. So don’t make it sound like DSL is going away and we are all going to get connected to fiber.

    1. I think the point is that DSL is going away and you are not going to get anything to replace it as companies decide they don’t want to deal with it. I can’t speak to Centurylink, but I have had experience with Frontier deciding to let their copper plants rot in the ground while they continue to sell service. The goal there seems to be to have paying customers on it as long as possible without doing any service and letting customers decide how long they are willing to put up with degrading service before the alternatives (or just having none) are more worth it. They will take your money now, but they don’t care about keeping you.

    2. $100 a month is for the beta. You can expect different levels of service at different prices as it goes actually public, right now it is only a toy for enthusiasts to play around with and let SpaceX get usage data/experience from, but they don’t even guarantee it’ll be continuously online, so it’s not an actual Internet service…

      About the night sky, it’s a pretty hilarious complaint, there are already thousands of satellites in orbit, they do *nothing* to reduce their reflection/visibility from the ground, while the Starlink satellites *actually do*, and have the expressly stated goal of not interfering with astronomy/the night sky ( which no other satellite company or constellation has/does ). Yet despite SpaceX being the operator that cares the most about this and that works towards being exemplary and even actually does research to advance the state of the art in terms of mitigating the impact of constellations, they are the one everybody keeps pointing fingers at …

      All this because after launch for a few days, before they reach their actual orbit, the satellite trains are visible from the ground in a configuration that is unusual/noticeable… and the clickbait media just jumped on that to sell titles about how Starlink is going to ruin the night sky etc. This is all so very frustrating…

      1. The first few launches for Starlink didn’t do squat to minimize reflections, but they were test satellites that will be the first to deorbit as more full-featured ones launch, with reflection mitigating features.

        1. The hardware design didn’t do squat to minimize reflections (for the first few launches), however they very early started implementing software solutions to that issue ( orient to minimize reflections towards the non-lit human-containing ground areas etc ), that applied to all of the launched sats.

        1. That’s $1700 the first year and then $1200 for subsequent years for SpaceX.

          Regardless, if 5G really takes off the way it’s supposed to, 5G will blow a huge financial hole in their business plan. Why pay them $100 a month for a connection when you will be able to tether off your 5G phone for nothing extra with an unlimited data plan?

          1. Except that the fast 5G service isn’t going to be available everywhere. Remote areas will get it last, the speeds won’t measure up to what you can get in cities, and there will likely be data caps. There will be a niche for StarLink, and I expect the final price will be lower; they’re charging an early adopter tax.

          2. Many areas don’t have LTE yet, they still are using 2g/3g technology. I wish the celluar companies didn’t have to support 20 year old technology (2g) anymore, but when they try to turn it off all these people with old/cheap phones start complaining.

          3. not going to have 5G but in most congested/Higher populous areas due to its shorter signal than 4G/LTE which is not in most of the Rural US yet still and many rural areas no cell service at all. The thing makes me mad is ATT promised the FCC with one of the past acquisitions they did to build out a specific amount of rural broadband, they did 10 percent of that goal and stopped. Many rural towns like one I live in, big counties, that had radio spectrum for city/county and emergency services since gone digital not using the bandwidth but still own the frequencies are letting companies com in and use those to provide local rural mulipoint wireless to rural county residents. This is something that hopefully can start filling some gaps but still the vast majority of the rural areas are still without and going to be without Internet, and yet more government and private sector almost demands doing business, job apps, goveremnt access online now.

  5. This a deliberate decision to force the next-generation connectivity across all rural hard to reach places to use the large number of high bandwidth, low latency, low altitude (~450+ km; 280+ miles) satellite internet constellations that are starting to come online:
    SpaceX (Starlink) 42,000 satellites
    Samsung 4,600-satellite constellation
    Amazon (Project Kuiper) 3,236 satellites
    OneWeb (OneWeb constellation) 2,620 satellites
    Boeing ???
    China (Hongwan) ~300 satellites

    The more satellites in the constellation, the lower the orbit, the lower the orbit, the lower the latency.

    My guess is that there was a government FCC backroom deal with done with AT&T to play ball.

    1. Actually what I said is the tail wagging the dog.
      The lower the orbit, the more satellites you need to cover the same area. But the power required for the same signal to noise ratio at a lower altitude is also less (Free-space path loss equation), so there are advantages. And the latency can be less than fibre optic cable (air has a refractive index of 1.0003, compared with the glass inner core a typical fibre optic cable with a refractive index of 1.557) by roughly 50%. So depending on the altitude of the satellite constellation and the physical distance between the end points, the latency can be lower.

      1. You don’t need microwaves, just have a dozen of CNC mirrors on the ground and solar panels on the underside of the drones, giving it 12x normal sunlight, and voila! Extremely easy and cheap to power the drones forev… oh wait… that only works during the day … arg, sad :(

        OR IS IT? Just add more mirrors! With a hundred of them, you can now power the drone using *MOONLIGHT* !!! Problem solv… urg, what about the moon cycle, pfff ….

        OH BUT WAIT! Just get THOUSANDS of mirrors, and now you can power the underside of the drone using reflected *STARLIGHT* !!!!

        I’m a genius!

    2. Kessler syndrome


      The Kessler syndrome (also called the Kessler effect,[1][2] collisional cascading, or ablation cascade), proposed by NASA scientist Donald J. Kessler in 1978, is a theoretical scenario in which the density of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) due to space pollution is high enough that collisions between objects could cause a cascade in which each collision generates space debris that increases the likelihood of further collisions.[3] One implication is that the distribution of debris in orbit could render space activities and the use of satellites in specific orbital ranges difficult for many generations.[3]

  6. DSL is plenty. The most useful knowledge can easily be transmitted in seconds on it. 5 megabytes = days of reading and a good chunk of knowledge needed for a lifetime career.

    On the other hand, just about any transmission medium would struggle sending 16k resolution, 240 frames per second, 3D, picture in picture, smell-o-vision. A lot of bandwidth is wasted transmitting noise, fiction, fake stories, badly written javascript, video enhanced with “digital makeup” to hide pimples and zits. There is no need for it. Life and natural resources are precious and shouldn’t be wasted.

    1. As I mentioned, I have long worked in the telecom industry and remember the days when 1200 baud was really moving. Back then, it took 2 modems to get 2400 and this was over conditioned phone lines. Over the years, people are expecting to be able to send more and more data. Years ago, no one would consider sending photos or videos. As for video, today I am changing my cable TV from the old channel based digital system to video over IP and, along with that, upgrading my Internet connection to 500/20 Mb. Also, back when I started in this business, the only telecom people had in their homes was POTS phone service which could be used for nothing beyond talking to people. Bottom line, tech advances and what was adequate yesterday won’t be tomorrow.

      1. Hahahaha….you young folks crack me up…..1200 baud was really moving…. hahaha….try 110 baud. When I got 300 baud it was really moving…..but only on windy days……that was after I got home from school… walking 2 miles…uphill…..in the snow….😄

        1. My first job, when I started in the telecom industry, was as a bench tech, overhauling Teletype machines. The first ones I worked on would run at various speeds, from 45.4 to 110 baud, depending on the gears and code!

        2. Garth,

          We had it even worse.

          I had to wade through 24 feet of shag carpet – 12 feet each way – just to select one of three channels on the TV. And I was in real trouble if I didn’t bring home a copy of next week’s TV Guide on Saturday, because we couldn’t plan our week without it!

          Then I had to walk into the kitchen and stand by the phone to answer the phone or make a phone call because our wall phone only had a 6 foot handset cord.

          And now my 7 year old Grandson complains because his online games aren’t fast enough…..

          1. Dad had 5 remote controls….. depending on which of us was closest to the TV……our TV only had 2 colors…Black and White….. if we wanted to hear the local news we just picked up the phone and listened in…..our playstation was the front yard…..we had for meals…”you’ll eat what I make and you’ll like it”……and we did what we were told….”because I said so”

        1. Actually, shortly after I started, my employer retired the last revenue morse wire, in a remote part of the country. Back in those days FAX was available, but video required a dedicated channel with enough bandwidth to carry it. It was typically carried via microwave or coax.

    2. Some of us work from home and we require fast internet so we can get acceptable performance and low latency for client database access.

      You can try running Oracle JDBC connections through your crappy connection and see how productive you are.

      Maybe you are stuck in the 1990s but that does not mean that we must suffer for your sins.

    3. have 10mb DSL at my mom’s when there working, use it to do a voip connection on a conference call with work, while on a VPN connection, and hosting a webex While she watches netflix (Albeit got the Roku set to 720 to minimize any buffering since she never watches anything HD, but I have watched HD not seen any issues.

      1. And yet I’m here likely paying the same, if not a bit less for 800/20 from my overbuilding cable ISP (tests at 920/25) at $39.99/mo

        Yeah i wish the upload was a bit better, but in this house… nothing less than 100/20 would even come close to cutting the mustard.

        1. unfortunately my Moms, where I’ll be moving back to when retire, that is all we can get. If the DSL goes away there is nothing else but satellite tried once sucked never again would rather use those old 1200 baud modems. I have actually been thinking of trying to get business class/wholesale internet close by where available get the wireless licenses for a mulitpoint start my own local rural ISP for other in my area. Degree in Electronics Design but working in the computer Industry at start moved to communications and then telecommunications for corporations so have some experience how to do it. I now use older Cisco AP’s running autonomous IOS in point to point setups all over my farm right now but those are limited to distance/speed/bandwidth lower than most people would want to use now.

  7. I think “xDSL” is a bit old fashioned.

    But the way xDSL infrastructure is put up is honestly rather logical for FttN & FttH installations.
    Since the local node can have multiple redundant back feeds, providing a lot better redundancy compared to pure FttH.
    (If someone destroys the cable, one looses the link, but with a FttN setup, there is a shorter non redundant link for one to worry about.)

    xDSL technology has though largely been forgotten.
    VDLS2 gives upwards of 200 Mb/s “best case”, and VDLS2+ is a bit better still. (300 Mb/s.) Though, both of these do suffer from additional cable lengths… But honestly, it is a fair bit impressive to move 100+ Mb/s in both directions further than 200 meters over a single twisted pair.

    Not saying that xDSL itself should hang around forever.
    But the network node solution is logical. And there is little reason for why one couldn’t use for an example a network cable between the node and the end user. (Maybe not running “Ethernet”, or it could, most IT equipment handles up to 100 meter links, and I have seen network cards able to get good bandwidth over 300 meter cables. But at some point, fiber makes more sense.)

    A Node has a fair bit of flexibility, and this is honestly the main strength of xDSL.

    Though, a lot of people on the internet is still stuck with sub 10 Mb/s down, and barely more than 1 Mb/s up.
    Ie, a lot of people sitting on the very first generation of ADSL.
    To most of these people, it would be a fairly substantial upgrade to just get VDSL… And upgrading the DSLAM from ADSL to VDSL isn’t all that expensive, 2-3 grand per box, that handles 48-96 users each… (or roughly 70 bucks per subscriber. And a bit of technician time too. So maybe 100… Most xDSL modems sold do support VDSL2 as “standard”, I haven’t seen one not supporting VDSL at least.)

    Going to fiber on the other hand costs typically a few hundred dollars per subscriber, a lot more expensive. Though, able to deliver a few times more bandwidth. But a lot of people don’t really subscribe to more than 100-200 Mb/s regardless.

    1. These days people are expecting a lot more than what copper pairs can provide. Nodes are used to bring the fibre closer to the home, but copper is still used for the last bit. I don’t know where you are, but in my area both the phone company and cable company are running fibre to more & more homes and not just to a node in the neighbourhood. Incidentally, the theoretical maximum bandwidth for fibre is about 2.5 petabits and companies such as Google are running in undersea cables that support multiple terrabits. There’s no way copper can compare with that.

      1. The real bandwidth limitations of fiber isn’t just “2.5 Pb/s”, it is brought down substantially by practical limitations.

        And in reality, it gets fairly expensive to even venture beyond 100 Gb/s.
        Though, even a 1 Gb/s long distance fiber module costs more than most consumers would consider “reasonable”.

        Not saying that “fiber isn’t worth it”.
        Just that fiber to the node is providing additional benefits over just fiber to the home.

        Where I live, fiber do come in to the street and takes a quick stop at a box down the curb, it contains a large patch panel, so that new lines can be brought in if there ever is a need. (ie, the backhaul line is having a few spares.)

        But if someone down the line breaks that backhaul line, then internet goes out. It is expensive to fix.
        And customers will complain.

        A node based solution would require that the cable gets damaged between the node and consumer.
        What type of connection to use for this “last mile” (that often isn’t even a mile) can either use copper, or fiber. Depending on what is most suitable.

        The subscriber connection could use fiber if it is long. But for those living within a short distance could just as well use copper. The G.Fast DSL standard can support up to 500 Mb/s for a fairly reasonable distance, and upwards of 1 Gb/s too if one is nearby. (Though, that is over a single twisted pair. A 4 pair network cable would provide a higher bandwidth rather “easily”.)

        The node itself would obviously use fiber, but have at least two independent backhaul lines to provide redundancy to the customers.

        And in such a node setup, one can also more cost effectively use the backhaul lines. Since each customer doesn’t need their own one.

        (Now, there is fiber multiplexers, but fiddling with 16 flavors of fiber modules for the subscribers can lead to incorrect maintenance. There is a lot of competent IT service technicians, but also a fair few incompetent ones. Not to mention curious customers…..)

    2. Pretty funny you think the problems to be solved are technology related, when it all comes down to politics. I live out in the boonies and yet I have amazing connectivity thanks to politics. If you have bad internet, it’s because you have failed to vote for competent representation.

      1. Yes, I agree that Internet service is 99% politics, and 1% technology.

        The government here in Sweden used to own the telephone lines, they built a competent xDSL foundation. (A connection over 500 meters is exceptionally rare to the point where it practically doesn’t exist. Unlike other countries where some people have 2-5 km to their local DSLAM. (“telco office” if one can call a box “full” of IT gear an office…))

        Though, then tides changed, the government privatized the telephone service for some quick cash.
        And then the privatized company now mostly hunts profits, and haven’t touched their hardware in ages, unless it breaks. It is really minimum expense to the point where they don’t at times even build out their network into new development.

        But the government has also held a keen eye at lasers down glass fibers, and thereby tax subsidize it to the point where xDSL isn’t profitable in comparison, despite being the more cost optimized solution…

        Likely doesn’t help the matter that one of Sweden’s largest exporters is Ericsson, a telco equipment manufacturer that has been investing heavily in fiber since before the internet were a thing. (They do not make much xDSL equipment btw.)

        So yes, it is politics, hype, opinion and marketing, before good economic planing and resource management.
        Sound long term decisions are often the boring ones getting little support from Joe average…. (And politicians only need to think for the next 4 years regardless, and if stuff doesn’t work out, they just blame the opposition.)

          1. Wouldn’t that be good on the other hand?

            Learn that fiber has some dangers and suddenly the hype train derails and everyone stars saying that fiber is dangerous and should be outlawed.

            Obviously joking, that would create tons of problems for where fiber is actually a superb solution.
            It is just that fiber is a bit too overhyped by a lot of people….

            Like when datacenters runs 2 meter fiber runs because “FIBER!” instead of a direct attached copper cable that would have lower power consumption and higher reliability. (No surprise, but light can easily be blocked by a piece of dust, copper pads and pins on the other hand can at times not even mind being surrounded by literal mud….)

          2. What bandwidth in those data centres? I have seen 10 G used and now 100 G is being used in some. Copper can’t compete with that, as it’s barely capable of 10 G over very short distances.

          3. I have seen as low as single Gb/s runs…
            I can understand using a 100 Gb/s fiber module.

            Though, there is 100 Gb/s DAC cables on the market. (Though, these I can only find in up to 5 meter lengths. A relatively short distance.)

            DAC usually just takes the differential pairs on the (Q)SFP port and buffers it, before sending it down a twisted pair or two. Some use Twinax though… But it isn’t really much more than a buffered copper cable from one to the other.

            So honestly little reason for fiber on these short runs.

    3. I can’t speak about the phone/ADSL nodes, but the cable nodes I’ve seen do not have reduntant feeds.
      In my many years of experience, there has never been redundant connections to residential customers. On the other hand, I have seen a large bank get 4 way redundancy over fibre, 2 from my company and 2 from the phone company, with each providing paths in opposite directions from the bank’s data centre. The other end was their backup data centre in another city.

      1. Most DSLAMs I have seen have been having 2 fiber lines going to it. (Or 4 if one counts the fact that they were full duplex lines…) 1 were going down one hose, and the other down another. But it could likely just be a daisy chain setup with multiple nodes. (Or some circle, but circles are at least redundant.)

        I can’t say for a fact that it is redundant.

        But a good setup should have a basic degree of redundancy. (I wouldn’t require to always “full bandwidth”, that would be a bit silly, and networks are overprovisioned in the end regardless…)

    4. FttH also runs to a local node, just like FttN does. Nobody is installing individual fiber runs from each house to a central office.

      The people who are getting an FttN-based ADSL install in place of traditional DSL are getting a legitimate upgrade, albeit still not as good as having coax or fiber to your house. The ones who are losing out are the ones who are losing their DSL service and getting no replacement at all.

        1. I am on a VDSL link with a copper run of less than 50m to the box in the telco pit in the street (they call it “fiber to the curb”) and I am getting 53Mbps downstream and 19Mbps upstream on a speedtest (and could get a faster speed if I wanted to pay for it).

          1. That is a short run.
            So should be able to support G.Fast up to about 900-1000 Mb/s if the hardware were to be upgraded in the future.

            Ample speed to say the least.
            G.Fast can also provide 100 Mb/s for about 500 meters, a fair bit better than current VDSL systems.

            Not that VDSL is bad.
            Most xDSL subscribers world wide aren’t having much better connections than the early generations of ADSL that barely reach beyond 20 Mb/s under ideal conditions. Honestly the biggest reason xDSL systems get a lot of criticism for being bad.

            It is 2020, VDSL2 came out early 2002. That is 18 years ago, why haven’t more people been migrated to it? (A VDSL2 DSLAM isn’t expensive either… It almost cost less than the fiber company charges for a fiber installation to a single house where I live.)

  8. ” to ensure that every home that still has copper can have some kind of internet access”?

    And why would any municipality want to invest in a slow, substandard service on rotting copper lines and then spend money to keep that substandard service propped up? The Telco’s are smart to abandon the copper wire that’s still in the ground. Most of the copper in the ground is way past it’s service life. Instead, someone needs to find a cost effective way to remove and recycle all of that copper cable.

    1. After Hurricane Sandy, NYC quickly moved to fibre, because the copper cables were flooded. One nice thing about fibre is it doesn’t matter if it gets wet. It’s simply not affected. Also, many of the copper cables have been there for a very long time and are deteriorating, even without a hurricane. At one time phone cables used paper insulation on the individual wires and cloth over the cable. It doesn’t take much water to ruin that sort of cable.

      1. “. One nice thing about fibre is it doesn’t matter if it gets wet. It’s simply not affected. ”

        Simply not true!


        “An irreversible increase in attenuation takes place if water diffuses into the fibre optic material (Si2O). Water molecules also move into microcracks in the fibres, enlarging them and dramatically reducing fibre life”

        1. Read what it says it takes for that to be a problem. The article mentions splice boxes etc., but says the actual fibre is relatively immune and even then, it would take years for problems to arise. With fibre, you have the glass fibre, it’s own plastic covering, at least one sheath and often gel to keep water out. Also, when fibres are spliced, they are laser welded and covered with a sheath for protection. While water damage is not impossible, it’s very unlikely. On the other hand, a paper & cloth covered copper cable is very sensitive to moisture and it can even be a problem with plastic insulation, simply due to the change in capacitance between the wires in a pair, which will cause a change in the impedance. For many years, outside plant cables were pressurized with nitrogen, just to keep the moisture out.

          1. Yeah so you trust telecoms to do proper maintenance on fiber optic cables after seeing how they maintain their copper cables? What a joke, their ONLY goal is to push Everyone onto LTE where they can make monster profits. You are just kidding yourself if you think telecoms have any interest in maintaining ANY landline capability for the consumer.

          2. @X As I mentioned, in my area both phone and cable companies are running fibre to homes, not just nodes. However, I doubt the phone company is spending much on copper cable.

          3. I have yet to see a laser being used to fuse telco fibers…all the machines use an electric arc…
            And the sheath is for mechanical protection, the place where it’s fused breaks much easier then the rest of the fiber.
            The full cable is definitely water resistant and so is the (relatively) thick plastic “straw” inside it, not sure what the gel inside is from (all I know it’s terribly messy). BUT – the final layer is some type of acrylate and it happily dissolves in polar solvents like IPA or ethanol. It’s also really thin and the splice box has the fiber striped down to the last layer.
            My personal wager would be that once the splice box has direct water cooling, the fibers will degrade.

    2. “And why would any municipality want to invest in a slow, substandard service on rotting copper lines and then spend money to keep that substandard service propped up?” Because that’s the way governments work, why do you think pennies still exist?

  9. My own experience with DSL was a long time ago, and I was living pretty much at the end of the line. I had an unreliable connection rated at a whopping 750 kbps (not mbps!), but realistically it barely beat out 56.6k dial-up.
    Prior to that, I was thrilled to have a 14.4k modem, which replaced my 2400 baud modem (which I somehow managed to run a BBS with). This was in the 1990’s, so not bad at that time. I remember it was roughly an hour per megabyte when downloading files with that 14.4k modem. Now I can download gigabytes of data in a few minutes with my 100 mbps cable internet connection. Telecommunications tech has come a long way in 25 years.

    That being said, I feel lucky to have the reliable, high speed connection that I do. My father recently moved roughly 1000 feet to a new apartment, and hasn’t been able to get any internet connection there in 3 months thanks to his landlords dragging their feet and a very limited selection of ISPs (a choice of 1 now that DSL isn’t an option). His town is one of those places where telecommunications companies don’t think it’s profitable enough to pay attention to, so they don’t. Jerks.

    1. You know I can’t see a single comment of yours on my laptop. Believe me I’ve looked. I think there is a stinker of a boi abouts but only Al is keeping him in check. You post good and salty content. And not just salt. Shame we have Gatekeeping by Ed.

  10. As the article reports – ADSL is in widespread use in the UK still. Cable TV is less widespread (OTA and satellite are still both more popular than cable), and not everyone has Fibre to the Cabinet (aka FTTC VDSL2) where your phone line can deliver 70/40 (or in some cases where G.Fast is used up to 300Mbs). The UK is hugely lagging behind many other European countries in FTTH/FTTP (Fibre to the Home, Fibre to the Premises) and although it is accelerating in deployment (my in-laws in a small rural village could have 1Gbs over their fibre connection if they wanted) we are nowhere near the figures of Spain, Portugal and Sweden etc.

    Copper landlines are still widespread here too. I’ve just moved to a cable area – and now get 500/40 via EuroDocsis and my cable provider provides my landline via VOIP… (No power, no landline…)

    1. Sweden only have a lot of fiber adoption thanks to it being almost fully tax subsidized to all apartment buildings.
      That alone is a 1/3rd of the population.

      And all new networks are fiber only.

      And all of this is tax subsidized to a silly degree.
      Even if everyone I know is happy with 50-200 Mb/s, speeds that regular xDSL could supply for a fraction of the cost, considering Sweden’s fairly superbly built xDSL network infrastructure. It wouldn’t even cost 50€ per subscriber on DSL for it to go from the current first gen ADSL over to VDSL2+. (A connection that could give practically everyone here above 150 Mb/s connections.)

      To me, it is a silly waste of money to be fair.
      The typical household will not need more than 1 Gb/s in the next 10 or even 20 years.
      Especially considering how over half the country has made due with sub 10 Mb/s connections since 1998.
      The infrastructure were planned to be upgraded to VDSL back in 2004-2005, work were a bit under way, then the government privatized the national phone network, and that upgrade cycle got halted. So if one is “luckly”, one has VDSL1. A few have though reverted back to ADSL again since the node sometimes fails, and they have the old ones on the shelf so why not use them…

      Also, freaking lasers in glass fibers, it is much much easier to market.
      And the fiber company building the network is owned by the government, since people hype about fiber, therefor they should get fiber. (I call it idiocrazy, and they will likely privatize the fiber company in a couple of years regardless, and the service will plummet in quality like a rock does in the Mariana trench.)

      1. “Regular xDSL” doesn’t come cheap. It’s a FTTC technology that requires huge investment and uses massive amounts of power.

        You may be able to push off investing in fibre for a few more years. But that VDSL investment will have to be written off as soon as fibre does come along and make it obsolete.

        How are the apartment buildings in Sweden supplied anyway? Do people really get fibre to their apartments? Apartment buildings are a situation where FTTH doesn’t make much sense. FTTB (with a VDSL connection to individual homes) is a sensible solution, with the individual homes being upgraded to a fibre link or ethernet cable when the building is due for renovation.

        1. I live in an apartment style condo. I have a pair of conduits running to the utility room, where the cable distribution equipment is located. They each have only 1 coax cable. It would be trivial to pull in fibre. On the other hand, some buildings would be a lot harder. There are plenty of high rise buildings that were recabled. They put conduits on the outside wall to hold the new cables. So, it would depend on the building.

        2. Fiber to individual apartments isn’t hard to install in new construction. The main downside is that fiber modems for the apartments are more expensive than cable modems or 10 gigabit ethernet switches would be, but it’s a useful bit of futureproofing.

          In an existing building that already has coax going to the apartments it makes more sense to use it. But if all the building has is POTS lines, pulling fiber would be a good technology upgrade.

        3. Some buildings have fiber to the apartment.
          Others have a network cable.
          And I wouldn’t be surprised if some even have VDSL.

          But the same can be implemented for regular houses in a lot of areas, since houses aren’t typically spaced out by more than 10-30 meters in a lot of urban areas.
          Maybe not out in the countryside where houses can be hundreds of meters apart, there fiber directly to the home is more logical.

          But using VDSL, G.Fast, or similar in an apartment building is fairly similar to FttC installations. It is small local nodes. (Though, most DSLAM boxes I have seen tend to not go under 48 lines, so for an FttC installation, that is a lot of channels, so some might stay unused and lower the cost effectiveness of the solution.)

  11. I’d like to think that this means we can stop pretending there is competition in the US broadband space but then other commenters have pointed out wireless communications.
    While I have access to decent broadband, Xfinity/Comcast is really the only option (and that does not help pricing at all). When I try to review my options, it’s either broadband delivered into my home cable or POTS copper. The idea of Verizon, Tmobile, or AT&T delivering broadband via 4G is pretty laughable as the area I’m in has enough subscribers to cause connectivity issues (especially if there is a copper broadband outage).

    In the US, I wish we’d stop pretending and either do something to actually foster competition or regulate the industry like a utility (assuming we can even regulate utilities properly in this country).

  12. The best part is all the abandoned “dark copper” the utilities leave around. Our neighborhood is filled with old rusted out phone wire boxes vomiting forth rotting copper wired onto curbs and yards. Occasionally a car backs over some phone wiring and it sits there for 6-months (proof that the box and wire is no longer in service). The city claims they are powerless to force the utilities to clean up their mess. Literally every corner, every block.

    Meanwhile, skip mowing your lawn for a week, and expect to be cited.

  13. Just try to call Emergency Services
    On a “new” line.

    If your power goes out?
    The Internet goes down.

    It’s done. Stroke, Heart Attack? Unfortunate casualty.

    “Should have had a Cellular Phone instead!”

    Your “fault” not theirs. After the incident and/or tragedy? You WILL forget…

    Unless you want to rent a back-up battery from AT&T for additional costs.

    “Pfft… DSL how antique..”

    Go ahead, just unplug you new modem from the line. Let us all know IF you still hear a dial tone. Because you probably won’t.

    1. I had plain old POTS for a while as I assumed that the phone company would maintain the existing auxiliary power supply for their old equipment. Guess what? I found out during a big and long power failure that wasn’t the case. After a couple of hours the old fashioned phone line went dead too – I assume that they didn’t care enough about their old equipment to maintain the generators – or maybe they scrapped them and once their batteries went dead in the central office – that was it until the power was restored.

      1. System is SUPPOSED to be independent. Ergo the passed laws to keep you from stealing ring to power.. look it up! I dead serious it’s super good interesting like not calling yourself to charge car battery for hours on end.

    2. I hope FCC (USA) takes notice. Some area have really bad cell reception which makes 911 a problem. My parents still has landline for this reason, it still works even during power outage.

      My parents can’t get cable, the nearest service is over 5 miles away and I doubt any company is going to run that just to connect my parents and a few other houses along the route. Too many tall tree prevents the use of satellite unless my parent invested in a 100 feet tower. Currently there’s no local fiber either, all they got is DSL or dialup modem.

      Hypothetically, if the landline is discontinued and the cell service still sucked, can those companies be sued for failure to provide a reliable access to 911 service?

      1. It seems like emergency communication should be a completely separate service. The amount of actual data needed is far lower, the call duration is shorter, it’s infrequently used, etc.

        Reserve a slice of low frequency spectrum for public digital emergency messaging, build it into all phones, and run it at a greatly increased power level.

        There’s so much talk about how important emergency communication is, but in practice, we just try to tack it on to existing things.

        There’s still huge amounts of land with no cell service and no landline either, like the middle of the desert, and AFAIK your only option is a satellite texting devices that costs $18 a month or something, or an EPIRB that only sends a “Come rescue me!” message without further info.

        Low bandwidth solutions break down in major disasters when everyone needs them at once, but they’re probably fine for rural areas.

        1. FWIW, I have WiFi calling set up on my cell phone. Part of the set up is to provide your home address, which is then sent to the 911 operator, as though from a wired phone. My complaint about that is it sends the same address even if you’re on WiFi elsewhere. I sent a suggestion to Google, in that it be tied to a specific SSID to get around that. As for low bandwidth service, SMS already does that. Every now and then you hear about some disaster where calls don’t get through because of congestion, but SMS does.

          1. Sorry james they are cheating the state, the municipality, the county, the city and the outlier zipcode..you are in.. in the current state I live in?

            All towns2 hours. South of ATL. Have ZERO grocers… the farms have been stopped from bringing food.. the mirrored windows of those 70’s aged shops bow contain.. racks and racks of call center equipment run by “BRIC” countries minus the Brazil and Russia.

            I’m certain you have seen the calls coming from VoiP number blocks very recently..

    3. There’s always ‘new tech’, ‘high tech’, etc.. At one time the POTS telephones that all these rotting copper lines were all hi-tech.

      I remember my Mom telling us about the local phone company convincing my grandparents to install a phone – their first phone. And the argument was the same then as it is now.

      So, just like then, don’t keep up with modern tech and you die – it’s ‘your fault’. And it really is!!! Technology moves on with or without you and it’s up to you to decide to sign up.

      1. “So, just like then, don’t keep up with modern tech and you die – it’s ‘your fault’. And it really is!!! Technology moves on with or without you and it’s up to you to decide to sign up.”

        It’s strange that people accept this state of affairs. Keep up with the ever-changing demands of the technocratic aristocracy–or else!

          1. All the tech I use now was the same ten years ago, though. I know because I’ve barely replaced any of it. Buying new things all the time isn’t progress, it’s just wasting money.

          2. “My tech is better then yours so I’m allowed to” THE DRONE says and the electro magnetic rail acceleraterated round passes through your roof, into your skull, into your wife’s skull, into your kids skulls, into the dog skull, into the cat skull, into the mouse skull, and into the litter tray.. then it flies in with a giant dragon.. “dong”

            2 hours pass while everyone is droned repeatedly to pieces while the DRONE yelped in happiness.

            The drone makes a horn noise and declares.. “Its the Aristocrats”…. then Tells the public water and sanitation company to pump BACKWARDS.

            You will be lucky to see the sea!!! 🤣

        1. Well, it’s better than then the emergency services not existing at all, so to a large degree, it’s not that you die from not keeping up, it’s that if you don’t keep up, the same old low tech stuff that always killed people might get you.

          There’s definitely a “Keep up or die” aspect to the economy, but not all of it is from technocrats. A lot comes from anti-tech, “Good times make soft men” types that want us all working 12 hours a day and doing math on paper IRL.

          The tech community CAN be extremely callous towards anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to upgrade, almost as much as the anti tech community will crap on you for using a smart alarm clock.

          I suspect they secretly LIKE breaking old stuff with backwards incompatibility, because the thought of anyone running old stuff that might have an unpatched vulnerability is so scary to them, they’d rather just break a whole bunch of people’s stuff every now and again to be sure.

          Beyond security, a lot of them see tech as a “pure” pursuit, and are totally willing to make the result ugly or less functional, or require expensive hardware, if it makes the internals more beautiful. They’d rather have a Swiss watch than even the most artistically designed cheap quartz.

          The 90s was great because there was almost none of that attitude going on, and I wish we could get back to some of that, but the open source movement is moving more and more towards the “Mathematician” end of the Three Tribes.

      2. I watch as you shrug and flop over.. “why didn’t they bother to even learn ham.” You know what? You deserved it.

        Possibly? Tom. The world is now better. without your. emphatic and full.

        Breathe of fresh air.. utter. And full. Complete and just. stupidity. Yes.

        That is right.. do it. Tom, it’s what you have always wanted.. for yourself.

    4. You’re talking about an extremely specific situation i guess.

      Where i live, POTS has always been less reliable than cellular or cable after those two started to become common. That includes the time before they started trying to move people away from the analog systems.

      For people out of cell range, it makes sense to keep POTS around, but you definitely can’t generalize it to everyone.

      Hell, my grandmas both have/had cellphones. Special old people phones.

  14. From what I can infer, Verizon has stopped digging up the ground to install Fiber in new neighborhoods as they are figuring they will do it far cheaper and more competitively with their wireless 5G.

    1. “more competitively” what does that mean when there is no competition? Perhaps you meant to say “less competitively”? Remember how Verizon became “more competitive” when they bought all their competition? Yeah me neither.

      Someday soon there will be only one corporation.

  15. DSL was one of the most miserable experiences of my life here in Arizona. I am glad it is a dim memory. It is no surprise that it has been declared end of life. Long overdue.

  16. Okay, this perhaps is just my point of view, but.. DSL, PLC.. It’s all the same horror for radio enthusiasts. These technologies use an infrastructure each which never was intended for that purpose. The BCI/RFI noise they cause is horrible, because neither telephone lines nor AC cables are shielded.

    To make things worse, very old houses use phone cabling that’s not even twisted pair, just an ordinary speaker cable, essentially. Never the less, telephone companies use these ancient lines for DSL, not spending any thoughts on what huge, noise emitting antenna they create in the process.
    With PLC, DSL etc. you need a very good shielded coaxial cable and an antenna far away from the house in order to be able to listen to shortwave frequencies below 10MHz.

    (To make matters worse, many household appliances emit noise on their own. Especially, these horrible switching-psus everyone loves so much because of their “efficiency”. If you’re lucky, ferrites will help to get rid of cost waves, at least.)

  17. I can get why someone would care about DSL if it’s the only broadband available in their area but then are those the areas that are losing DSL? The beginning 2/3 of the article kind of paints the situation to look like DSL and Fiber are the only two forms of internet connection available only to mention cable and satellite very briefly later.

    Well, satellite is a dud. Even if you manage to get good bandwidth through it (unlikely) the latency makes it garbage.

    But cable is pretty good.

    We briefly had AT&T U-Verse which they marketed to make it sound like you were getting fiber but it wasn’t fiber to the house. I’m not sure what it was, fiber to the poll then DSL into the house maybe? It forced you to use their router and that thing was a POS that wouldn’t hold it’s settings right if you wanted to do any form of port forwarding. If that’s what you have to put up with to get their fiber I’ll stick to copper.

    Anyway, at least in the city I lived in cable internet became available in most neighborhoods months before DSL. It was DSL’s distance limit to the DSLAM that held it back. I and most of my friends, still using our free college provided dial-up accounts were ready to sign the papers and start whichever service hit our apartments first. For most of us that meant cable.

    Four or five years later I had one friend still on DSL. It was unreliable and slow. I asked why he didn’t switch and he had some line about the importance of competition and not wanting to give the cable company a monopoly. Ok. but isn’t the purpose of competition in a market to encourage competitors to improve? Propping up a long-time crappy service kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?

    So yah, if anyone in rural areas or wherever is being completely cut off because of this they have my sympathy. But as long as there is a better alternative why keep DSL on life support?

    1. I agree, but I had a friend with an early Cable internet connection. Downloads were great, but uploads.. Oh, my. Back then, we could not have a video chat over ICQ when his sisters were also online..This is better now (also use cable), but cable is a shared medium. The more users in a house, the less bandwith for the individual remains..

      1. Regardless of how you connect, at some point it’s shared. ADSL is no better in this regard. Also, Ethernet is bandwidth on demand, up to whatever it’s capable of. So, while there may be other users, if they’re not doing anything, then you have all the bandwidth to yourself.

        Were you on one of those early cable modem systems that used dial up for upload?

    2. AT&T U-Verse is “Fiber to the Node” – there’s a telco box down the street that gets fed by a fiber, and then the DSLAM in the box uses various short-distance high-speed DSL flavors to get to your house (VHDSL etc.)
      In the best case, that can get you speeds over 25 Mbps, which originally was split up into one channel for your TV and one for your internet.
      In MY case, I used to have 3 Mbps Central Office DSL, and could probably have gotten 6 Mbps, but they’ll be retiring it. And my block’s wires get fed by a telco box that’s about 5000 feet away, which is too far to keep the higher speeds stable, even at 5 Mbps. (There’s a newer box 1000 feet away, but that was put in a couple decades after my block got wired.) So I gave up and got cable modem. The old DSL had been stable for years except for one incident of squirrels chewing on the wires and an occasional DSL modem/router box failure.

      (Disclaimer: I’m an AT&T employee, but not on that side of the business, so part of this is general knowledge about the technology we’ve been selling and part of it’s talking with the techs.)

  18. I’m a bit surprised that, when talking about “DSL flavours”, you are not mentioning that VDSL2 didn’t stop with ITU-T G.993.2. Besides ITU-T G.993.5 aka “Vectoring” that does not actually increase throughput (but allows ISPs to have more subscribers per line), there’s ITU-T G.993.2 Annex Q aka “SuperVectoring” that reaches up to 250 mbit down and 40 upstream. Which is actively propagated here in Germany because the ISPs are fighting tooth and nail to lay fibers into apartment buildings that already have perfectly adequate 70 year old doorbell wire.

    Personally, I was on a high-functioning ADSL2+ line until May of this year. I changed to a 100/40 VDSL2 line because, faced with the necessity to work from home, I really needed the increased *upstream* bandwidth. Although 100 mbits are nice, I would still be perfectly fine with 16 mbits downstream.

    And there’s a best-before date on all of this anyway. Once international travel has restarted, I will complete the move to a land far, far away, where the cheapest line option — a gigabit fiber — is already poking out, of all places, the kitchen wall.

  19. I live in South East Texas. And ATT is our only real option. I have adsl dry loop. It’s 6 meg down. And it’s been very stable for the last year or so… One I complained enough about about signal noise on my line and someone finally came and fixed it. I can only wish I had another viable option … But alas I don’t… Not in rural texas. I use craptastic attt because there’s not another choice

  20. Do an article on the Federal Universal Service fund and what it’s supposed to be used to subsidize. Include which kinds of companies tap into it and what they do *and do not* use the funds for. Also which companies would like to take some of that money for supporting internet access but don’t due to too much red tape etc involved.

  21. It’s not going away in Australia until the DSLAM at the local exchange breaks down.

    Areas that aren’t served by any kind of fibre in our joke of a National Broadband Network, will maintain the copper network. There’s a service obligation that you must have a dial tone for emergency services, even if you don’t have a service on it. The fibre-served areas use a failover LTE dongle plugged into the modem/router for when the power fails.

    One of our local Telstra technicians told me that the ADSL equipment won’t be switched off, but it won’t be maintained, either. When it finally dies, I’ll switch to LTE, or Starlink if it’s available by then.

    And my brother just did a speed test on 5G – 267 down, 48 up.

  22. Isn’t the issue one of cost and the magnitude of effort required?

    It took a hundred years or so to lay two pairs of copper wires to every property. It will take some time and lots of money to pull a strand of fiber to everyone. Copper is rugged and pretty easy to cut, splice, and patch. Fiber is somewhat fragile, and splicing needs special tools and trained technicians.

  23. I feel like At&T red lining my community. I been with them since 2001 and been having issues with my cheap netgear b550 modem from them for years. I live in rural area and want to understand why we can’t get fiber optic services. There is a city not to far from me can get it. I was told they gonna upgrade satellites, which I don’t want. When doing my research, why we are paying the same price as fiber optic customers? Not fair. Some parts in my city can receive Spectrum services. How can this issue be brought up over AT&T, to hear customers concerns about services. I have kids whose in homeschool and would like to receive quality internet service’s. Can’t really afford satellite services, to expensive. We might not never get upgrade. We in rural areas should receive quality services just like urban areas. When companies spend money to upgrade, should be for all customers they provide services, not certain types of communities of their preferences.

    1. “Shareholder Value” – AT&T’s real problem

      As someone who holds several thousand in AT&T stock, I am actually okay with them cutting the dividend for a few years, cleaning up this debt mess Randall made by purchasing all those junk media companies, and focusing on being good on actual communications

      The problem is hedegund managers would never allow for it.

  24. I wonder what would be the theoretical limit of DSL on typical runs if you remove the DC bias (increases corrosion in damp environments) and increase the signal voltage to just below the safety limit of 30V AC. Or if the ISPs somehow got approval to run whatever voltage they like on the lines (by relabeling them as high voltage lines?), what would be the ultimate limit before the cable dielectric breaks down?

    1. Voltage has little to do with it, so long as you have a decent signal/noise ratio. These days it’s a lot of signal processing that gives us the bandwidth. Also, the longer the cable, the lower bandwidth you can run. Of course, this is with baseband signals. Cable TV systems use channels, which are amplified at interval.

      1. A higher voltage (bigger signal) will give a better SNR if the noise is the same. Thinking about it, the voltage will attenuate especially at higher frequencies so perhaps the voltage could be boosted at the ISP end with the customer end constantly signaling back what voltage it sees so that it’s always within safety limits at the customer end. It would also be dropped to 30V AC or less at the ISP side if the connection is lost, so that accidentally digging into a cable will not be an electrocution hazard.

        I would just like to know how close current DSL standards are to the safety limits and what the ultimate limits of the cable would be. I’m under the impression the voltage is currently limited by the cost of wide bandwidth high voltage amplifiers (especially at the time the standards were developed) and that the bandwidth could be boosted several times before safety voltage limits start to limit things.

      1. Homeplug is indeed a great way of actually implementing something usable, as practiced by OpenROV folks since ~2013 https://forum.openrov.com/t/teardown-of-a-homeplug-adapter/305
        I am more interested in educational/retro computing side of things. We already have telephone modems/fax (linux minimodem, Fabrice Bellard linmodem, Tony Fisher SGI software modem), pure software GSM, DECT receiver, DVB-T, and Wifi implementations (GNU Radio), we even have bitbanged USB and ethernet implementations. Would be cool to also throw ADSL in there.

  25. “I wanted cable TV anyway, so it made sense.” – this is a common misconception that the cable company has no doubt profited from. I have had a cable modem since 2000 and except for a brief period between 2009-2012 never had cable TV (which was my own choice). No-one has ever told me I must get TV to get a cable modem. Sure I’ve missed out on a “discount” by not bundling the two, but it’s still cheaper to pay full price for internet and NOTHING for TV (or in my case, pay a streaming service a little bit for it).

  26. In my state the local phone company wants $50/month for DSL and the endless upselling is absolute torture every time you have any contact with them.

    Meanwhile the local “fixed wireless” wifi style WISP wants $40/month for faster service and they aren’t difficult to work with.

    There are interesting technical details to debate, but if there’s going to be only one phone company again due to endless mergers and every merger means your phone bill will go up 10% permanently for financial costs, it doesn’t matter how inefficient the small local providers are, it’ll still be cheaper faster and more reliable than the megacorporation offerings.

  27. Interesting comments re the United Kingdom, totally wrong as far as I know – 96% fibre to the premises availability as of Nov 1st 2020. To be fair, almost everyone gets 70Mb/s + and 60% get up to 516Mb/s. They reckon that 80% should be on 1gb/s within 3 years. I subscribe to a 78Mb/s FTTC service with last mile on ducted copper (VDSL?) because it’s cheap and my house is out in the sticks. https://www.cable.co.uk/broadband/guides/fibre-broadband-checker/

    As I also live in Portugal, I have given up with ADSL which is expensive and being over the pole, very unreliable. More importantly, MEO (national carrier) are incompetent. The thinnest book in the world is the MEO customer services handbook, I gave up after 3 years. Yes, fibre over the pole (yuk) may be available, but only as part of a mutltimedia package. Anyone who’s had to watch Portuguese TV will understand my reluctance to subscribe to that muck, it makes your eyes bleed if you watch it for more that 5 minutes. Not only that, but the claims of 100Mb/s make no mention of the fact it’s a very heavily contended service. If you’re lucky, expect 15 Mb/s, and freakishly poor customer service.

    So 4G LTE is the legal way forward, although I am exploring a vestigual sideband option using satellite. I get around 40Mb/s both ways using external aerials to the 5 mile distant Vodafone mast.

    I posted here because you’re article is partly incorrect.

  28. I have had DSL for about 15 years, coming from the old-school dial-up modems since their inception and then a brief stint in satellite internet. I have been getting phone calls from “AT&T” at least once a week for the past 10 years telling me that they will be discontinuing DSL “in the coming months” and that I MUST switch to U-Verse. Yeah… for starters, their promise of U-Verse being cheaper is a lie. I am on a business line and the price increases for U-Verse. When I point that out, their argument is “but you get more so it’s cheaper.” :rolingeys: Yeah… OK. I don’t want “more” but even I did, it’s still not “cheaper.” Secondly, I tried U-Verse once years ago. I run a web server in my shop for my business and their modems wouldn’t support the port forwarding I needed, so I had it removed before the install guy even left. Third… if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. For me, it works fine and until it truly disappears, I will keep using what works… I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

  29. Jeez is murican internet still over phone line?! thats pretty bad for 2020, i hope for yall that this update is a mere step on the road to an actual upgrade, most of europe is fibre to the doorstep or modem for a few years now

      1. Did I miss an irony by blinking?

        The USA is pretty much divided by poor internet, unlike Indonesia and Singapore that have had fibre to the premises for years and quietly enjoy 1G/s

        Most of the US is years behind Europe, the investment is not being made, hence the obsession with high priced satellite coverage

  30. I went the full gamut of Internet connections.

    I had pinned-dialup, pinned-ISDN, ADSL, and then probably every DOCSIS version through 3.1 (so far). I stuck with ADSL way beyond its best-by date because I had a static IP address block. I abandoned that by moving that server from my garage to a virtual host.

    I’m fairly confident that our current connection is FTTC. Here in the heart of Silicon Valley I’d certainly expect nothing less.

    1. You do know this pertains only to the legacy ADSL1 service.. and that only goes up to 6Mbps

      I still know a few people on it, but they usually pay ~20-30/mo and the speeds are fine for their needs, and far more stable than cable.

      Not everyone needs 1000Mbps cable, and if someone isn’t streaming much video or doing huge downloads, 3-6Mbps is far more than sufficient.

    2. For some, that would be an improvement. A friend of mine only gets 7 Mb. There are plenty of others with a lot poorer or no service. A lot of them are turning up with pandemic, where they’re expected to work or attend school from home.

  31. They “quietly” discontinued landline service where I live. The phones went dead and when calling to check on repair progress, the work orders were just being sent to the “completed” section with no work being done which was wholly criminal negligence, on their part, as many senior citizens don’t have internet or cell phones.

      1. They may move POTS customers to the new “POTS”, which is VoIP over fibre. Regardless, they shouldn’t just be disconnecting someone, without providing an alternative.

        BTW, my “POTS” is VoIP over cable and my phone plugs into the same box that provides my Internet and TV service.

    1. Phone lines are still regulated by the FCC. And they can’t just disconnect a POTS line without offering a viable substitute. My best guess if they are really doing this is your local TELCO sent out whatever notification is legally required by law and you missed it.

      1. It depends on the state. Here in IL they’re not required to offer pots.. but still do for those who want it, and it was surprisingly easy to order when it was time.

        The FCC left most POTS regulations to each state.

        I personally don’t “need” my POTS line. I just like having it (the waste of money it is and all) so I keep it, and I cannot use AT&Ts VoIP replacement since it doesn’t support pulse (I’ve got some rotary sets around the house)

        1. This person’s issue isn’t about being offered POTS, it’s about an existing POTS line being disconnected without his knowledge. Which is what was done when his TELCO did not repair his line and did not inform him.

          Not being offered a POTS line is perfectly OK. You have alternatives. But disconnecting an active line for no other reason than it can’t be repaired is something entirely different!

          1. Which I doubt is actually what happened (Unless it’s Frontier).. frontier being broke and in BK they tend to not repair things for weeks at a time.

            An FCC complaint usually fixes those issues though as they have to answer to a regulating body.

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