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gfast map June 2017

Dark blue: Firm commitments from incumbent: BT (10M), Belgacom, Australian NBN, Swisscom,  Austria, Bezeq Israel, Chunghwa Taiwan, Telus Canada, Telekom South Africa, SK Korea, (U.S.) AT&T, Century, Frontier, Windstream

Light blue: Smaller carriers" Germany, Norway, Finland, Japan

Green: Incumbent likely: Belgium, France, Germany, & Poland  Country by country details. 

New-Hope-180"DSL is terrible, but it doesn’t have to be," writes Rob Pegoraro, who has written regularly for The Washington Post and USA Today. He's on target that the telcos offer about half the country an awful service, 10-15 year-old DSL at speeds of 2-10 megabits. That's terrible today and customers are flocking to cable. But he also reports that #1, AT&T and #3, Centurylink, are getting serious about G.fast at 500 megabits and more.

Rob picked up my comment, "G.fast will be a real factor in 2017 but for a relatively small number of homes," and went on to call G.fast "A new hope." My guess is that both AT&T and Century will start deploying widely in the second half of 2017.

AT&T is actively looking for apartment buildings in Qwest territory for WTTR, wireless to the rooftop. The cost difference between G.fast and other copper technologies is so low companies not going G.fast are making a mistake. That's particularly true for Deutsche Telecom. which faces cable going to a gigabit in most MDUs.

AT&T is not officially using G.fast, but it's the natural way to go. T also has millions of apartments with a DirecTV antenna on the roof and coax currently used to share the video throughout. It's natural to use wireless to the roof or fiber to the basement + G.fast. Sckipio offers G.fast over coax and it is working well.

Maybe, Rob adds, because G.fast and fiber may not be deployed before cable takes all the customers. 

FCC study shows DSL is terrible, but it doesn’t have to be

[Rob begins the article reviewing the dismal DSL results reported by the FCC Measuring Broadband America.]

A new hope, maybe

That does not, however, mean that DSL is the rotary-dial phone of broadband. Already-deployed and upcoming advances to the technology can breathe more speed into it, at least for subscribers living close enough to the nearest “central office” network node...

But a newer tweak to DSL, suitably named G.fast, can do even better in residences sufficiently close to the nearest node — up to 500 Mbps.

In September, CenturyLink (CTL) activated the biggest deployment of G.fast in the U.S.,bringing 500-Mbps access to some 800 apartments in Platteville, Wisc. That choice of dwelling reflects the underlying physics here: G.fast has the shortest range of all DSL technologies.

As a result, CenturyLink spokeswoman Stephanie Meisse said the firm plans to focus on using G.fast to connect apartments, small office buildings and houses to existing fiber lines—saving itself the cost of extending fiber the last few hundred feet.AT&T echoed that assessment, calling G.fast a way to bring some of the same speed as fiber to apartments with less upfront work.

“G.fast will be a real factor in 2017 but for a relatively small number of homes,” predicted Dave Burstein, publisher of the technical publication Fast Net News.

Felten, however, questioned how much sense this upgrade would ultimately make, given that it doesn’t scale to match demand as well as fiber. “Quite quickly the deployment costs become comparable to fiber to the home.”

None of the above

I suspect most readers would be content if their current phone provider would choose between upgrading to fiber or deploying souped-up DSL that still competed with cable speeds. But the risk is that they’ll do none of the above.

At Verizon, that seems to be the case. Spokesman Raymond McConville said the firm “is looking at” G.fast but has no plans to deploy it yet.

That would leave a lot of customers to stick it out with increasingly uncompetitive speeds or hope for some future salvation.

Maybe 4G LTE’s successor, 5G wireless, will emerge from its current cloud of hype to provide fast downloads without the traditional, restrictive data caps of mobile broadband. Maybe President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan will include a broadband buildout, something Hundt called a “holy cow” possibility.

Or maybe cable will continue to lock up the residential broadband market. You all are okay with that, right?

(Verizon has made an offer to acquire Yahoo Finance’s parent company, Yahoo.)

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