DSL Just Won’t Go Away!

Poor old DSL. After all it’s given the world, some people just seem incredibly unappreciative and want to pop the access technology veteran on his wheelchair and take him to his nursing home. With article titles such as ‘Look! It’s another effort to save DSL’ giving the impression of a team of doctors trying desperately to find another cure for the seasoned campaigner, it looks like FTTH has consigned DSL to the pages of broadband history.

However, the state of the world’s finances and the potential worst case scenario of Greece and others exiting the Euro currency have created a stormy climate for major DSL operators to invest in full FTTH deployment. Certainly, those on one side of the fence say we need an experienced broadband access captain to guide us through this perfect storm – time to temporarily knock FTTH off the tiller and get vice-admiral DSL back in charge until the storm is through.

Indeed, far from being a backward step away from the holy grail of full FTTH deployment, investment in DSL could be more of a medium to long-term solution that those pushing for FTTH should not discredit…

Stephen Wilson, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media and DSL expert highlights that if operators and vendors work together to get all of their DSL acceleration technology ducks in a row ‘there would be a potentially clear migration path from bonding, through vectoring, then perhaps through phantom mode and to G.Fast. This technology migration would be logical in the sense that fiber would be being continually brought closer to the customer.’

As Stephen goes on to state, such an evolution path would be of benefit to the whole industry, with operators being able to postpone the most expensive part of full FTTH roll out (the bit nearest the House), and vendors being ‘able to sell a variety of different technologies to their operator customers instead of them merely buying a GPON system and not moving beyond that.’

Once DSL operators reach the holy grail of G.fast, another quite different problem arises – is there any consumer demand for the 500Mbps speeds that G.fast could provide? There has even been talk of 800Mbps speeds being achieved over DSL, enough to make Google Fiber look over their shoulders in Kansas City.

Therefore, far from being viewed as cash strapped broadband luddites, an alternative and perhaps more measured view is that present day DSL operators are shrewdly investing their money in DSL acceleration and strategically postponing the holy grail of full FTTH until the services that require 1G+ speeds become ubiquitous. Then and only then (and finance permitting of course), DSL can hand over the fixed access technology reins to FTTH and enjoy retirement after a job well done.

What do you think – Is DSL coming back stronger to slap FTTH back a few years, or is DSL acceleration short sighted and FTTH is the only way to go?

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