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Is DSL dying?

The disturbing trends lead to DSL doldrums. 5/21 ReleVents hed: Is DSL dying? Dek: The disturbing trends lead to DSL doldrums. By James Mathewson

Readers of my Earthlink story would sympathize with my recent experiences with Qwest DSL. In a nutshell, I ordered DSL for my Mac and was shipped the PC kit instead. I will spare you the ugly details this time. Upshot: I spent a lot of time listening to a replay of a two-minute technopop song and trying to convince the tech support guys that what I had wouldn’t work, and to please just give me the RMA number so I could send it back and get the right stuff. In the end I did send it all back, convinced that even if I had received the right stuff, the filters could not reduce line noise enough for comfortable phone connections. I’ll get cable, thank you.

The experience did teach me enough about DSL to know that it is basically a kludge. Trying to shove all that data down a skinny pipe and make it all coexist with existing analog signals is like trying to run a network over a power line. No wonder you can’t get DSL if you don’t live closer than a mile to the nearest station (I am on the fringe, hence the line noise).

I also learned why third-party DSL providers such as the defunct Northpoint and Flashcom just can’t make a go of it. They have to resell inferior versions of products that their rich Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier (ILEC) competitors are selling below cost to gain market share. If the ILEC versions are anything like my experience, how bad do you think the third-party systems would be? Covad offers ISDN speeds for the price of magabit services offered by Qwest, for example. It’s tough to compete with that.

It should also come as no surprise that DSL connections are on the decline, despite increased demand for broadband, according to a news story on our site Friday. Cable is beating DSL right now, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. The infrastructure issues favor cable.

And the biggest fight Congress is in right now relates to changing the regulatory structure surrounding ILECs to “level the playing field” with cable. As another story on o

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