Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

DSL Takes Its Hits

Like WAP, DSL has picked up a few nom de plumes of its own. Disappointing Subscriber Line and Digital Slow Line have shown up in letters to the editor of several industry magazines. But then, DSL—it actually stands for digital subscriber line and provides a high-speed connection to the Internet and corporate intranets—has been a big disappointment to millions who can't get DSL service, as well as to the millions who are getting it.

One consumer watchdog group, the New Networks Institute, estimates that as many as 75% of the DSLs have run into installation or service problems in some areas. But love it or hate it, DSL is the primary way most people get broadband access at home or in small offices. A survey of 150 readers of Network Magazine in 2001 indicated that most people hated it, with 55% reporting problems during installation and 35% declaring it a "major headache." Was the service delivered on time? Forty-seven percent said no. Thirty-two percent of the survey's respondents also said the speed of the service was less than advertised. The top rumor coming out of 2001 DSLcon, the industry's own trade show, reported Telephony magazine, was that "Technology has fallen victim to the hype machine." DSL even has its own Web sites to register complaints about DSL providers around the country—http://www.dslreports.com and http://www.2wire.com.

Despite the horror stories about installation problems, lack of access, and articles in the business press about independent DSL providers struggling to stay alive, market research continues to be generally positive, projecting that by 2003, DSL will exceed installations of all other broadband Internet access technologies combined, including leased lines, frame relay, ATM, cable modem, satellite, and wireless.

Others aren't so sure. DSL is a remote access technology that uses the existing telephone copper wiring infrastructure. It promises high bandwidth (meaning it's fast, at least 10 times faster than dial-up modems while leaving the phone line free for regular calls) and low cost—down to $20–$30 a month in some areas. It has another advantage to the user in that it is "always on," so there is no waiting for a modem to dial and connect before sending or receiving data. And there are no delays when a network connection is made, enabling DSL providers to use new Internet "push" technologies to send information to the subscriber's computer as soon as the information is available.

So, what's the problem? For one thing, customers must be within 10,000 to 18,000 feet of a central office to get the service. There are also aging copper networks to contend with. Industry estimates of the percentage of phone lines that can handle DSL range from 30% to 60%, which means the service may not be reliable. Installations often fail or simply won't work with some subscribers' wiring.

Another big hangup is that installation often requires working with at least three companies. It usually starts with buying the service from an Internet Service Provider, or ISP, which contracts with a DSP technology company to make the connection. The DSL specialist then must work with the local telephone company to handle some elements of the installation. DSL subscribers complain that when something doesn't work, these companies pass the blame and it can take weeks to fix the problem, if then. It's all about money. Several independent DSL providers have cancelled their expansion plans, revised earnings estimates, cut staff, or simply gone bankrupt.

One of the bankruptcy group, NorthPoint Communications, believes it was blindsided when Verizon Communications decided not to merge with NorthPoint, a deal that would have pumped $800 million into NorthPoint and kept its service intact. Another DSL provider, Rhythms NetConnections, was rumored to be making a bid for NorthPoint's customer base at approximately the same time that Rhythms hired investment banker Lazard Frere & Co. to look into its financial options, including the sale of the company. NorthPoint couldn't wait; it sold its equipment to AT&T. At about the same time, Excite At Home Corp., Microsoft, and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone's Verio business unit, which bought DSL access from NorthPoint, announced they were ending their DSL service, at least for the time being.

The big U.S. carriers, like SBC, the nation's leading DSL provider, Verizon, and some ISPs continue to push DSL as the best way to get homes and businesses connected. SBC hopes to hook up 80% of its customers to DSL by the end of 2002 through so-called neighborhood gateways—sort of subcentral telecom stations—to extend the currently limited reach of their central offices. Even technology hounds such as Stephen H. Wildstrom, BusinessWeek's technology columnist, are frustrated. "I'm disappointed," he wrote in December 2000, "but not surprised, to be stuck among the 95% or so of Americans without high-speed Internet service. Despite all the hype and talk of broadcast-type video and CD-quality audio over the Net, we are a dial-up nation, and we are likely to remain that way for a long time to come."

Still, DSL continues to sell well among consumers who need a high-speed alternative to their current dial-up service and are not price conscious. And it's strong internationally. Most analysts believe that DSL will continue to do well, particularly among consumers whose choice is between DSL and cable modems. They're competitively priced, and cable modems use the same type of wire that brings cable TV into the home; cable providers usually require that cable modem subscribers also sign up for the cable TV program service.

The cable guys also want to be your home network. CableLabs, mentioned earlier, has published several documents outlining specifications for quality of service and network architecture to be used when networking a cable connection in the home. The specs are part of the industry's effort to lay a technical groundwork to support home networking for the growing list of applications for the home and small offices, such as multimedia. It's also a clear attempt to better compete with DSL service providers. (Curiously, a study by the Strategis Group found that a greater percentage of cable modem users than DSL users are satisfied with their service based on several measures, including overall quality, access speed, and "always on" connectivity. The group also found that potential churn among DSL users—the rate at which people change or cancel their service—is nearly twice as high as that of cable modem users, 15% versus 8%. "Therefore," it says, "while DSL providers may acquire more customers due to their superior marketing efforts, they may eventually lose a higher percentage of customers to other DSL providers or to other access technologies than their cable modem counterparts."

When you can get it, and when it works, DSL can offer some interesting applications, like voice-over-DSL, high-speed Internet access, online gaming, video streaming, and conferencing. With more than 400 members, the DSL Forum is busily hyping cooperation among hardware and software vendors and service providers to enhance interoperability between different network's equipment, a move that will improve installation and cost effectiveness.

To help ease the pain of installation, DSL providers are pushing something called self-provisioning. That is, customers will be able to plug the DSL modem into an outlet and a phone line will configure itself by connecting and talking to the central office. The three-mile barrier is another problem, but the DSL camp thinks it may even have a way around that, with potential deployment of service up to five miles from a central office, possible in many areas. Meanwhile, new and emerging higher-speed versions of DSL, with longer range and improved performance, are in the works and may mean writing new technical standards. And at least five industry organizations, the DSL Forum, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Geneva-based International Telecommunications Union, the ATM Forum, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), are working the DSL standards issue.

The bigger problem is selling broadband, no matter what the technology, to consumers, particularly in a weakened economy and in an environment where most people use the Internet mainly to check their e-mail. Lower prices will help. So will an improved product and service.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020