FCC Reveals DSL Speeds Lagging Cable/Fiber: Speeds are Inconsistent & often <Advertised! AT&T U-Verse Speed Report

A new FCC report shows that while many U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs) increased performance between 2012 and 2013, not all of them delivered the speeds that they advertised.  The FCC report found the average speed for subscribers is now 21.2 megabits per second- up roughly 36% from the average in 2012. Aside from Centurylink, the other DSL providers showed little or no improvement in broadband speeds. 

Note: The author has had AT&T U-Verse for 2 years during which time the speeds have not improved.  June 20, 2014 (today) test results:  12.69M b/sec downstream and 1.93M b/sec upstream. No change within last 2 years, but above the advertised speed range for the access tier I subscribe to: 

AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet Max:   6.1 Mb/sec – 12.0 Mb/sec


For 10 years prior to U-Verse, I had Pac Bell/SBC/AT&T DSL which topped out at 3Mb/sec downstream and was NOT nearly as reliable as U-Verse Internet access.  All over the same old twisted pair copper going into my home.

Upload speeds varied greatly among broadband providers, since according to the report most consumers tend to download far more data than they upload. Frontier and Verizon, which market fiber-based services, offered upload speeds as fast as 25 Mbps and 35 Mbps, respectively; no other provider offers upload speeds of more than 10 Mbps. (AT&T doesn’t advertise download speed ranges for U-Verse on their website).

The FCC plans to write to the CEOs of the DSL providers and other companies that failed to consistently meet their advertised speeds, to find out why. An agency official singled out Windstream for having among the worst performance.

Consistency of speeds is also a problem, as some ISPs delivered approximately 60 percent of the speeds they promised 80 percent of the time to 80 percent of customers, according to the report. This is the first time the commission measured speed consistency in its annual report on the topic, and the results concerned FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.   “Consumers deserve to get what they pay for,” Wheeler said in a statement announcing the report Wednesday. “I’ve directed FCC staff to write to the underperforming companies to ask why this happened and what they will do to solve this.”  

Please refer to this chart showing consistent download speed vs advertised speed 80% of time/80% of subscribers.  All major U.S. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are included:


The FCC report states that “Cablevision delivered 100% or better of advertised speed to 80% of our panelists 80% of the time during peak periods, and about half the ISPs delivered less than about 90% or better of the advertised speed for 80/80. However about one-third of the ISPs delivered only 60 percent or better of advertised speeds 80 percent of the time to 80 percent of the consumers.”  This is a metric that the FCC expects ISPs to improve upon over the course of the next year. Do you think that will occur?

Those ISPs using DSL technology show little or no improvement in maximum speeds, with the sole exception of Qwest/Centurylink, which this past year doubled its highest download speed within specific market areas. The reason for this may be that DSL, unlike cable and fiber technologies, is strongly dependent upon the length of the copper wire (or “loop”) from the residence to the service provider’s terminating electronic equipment, such that obtaining higher data speeds would require companies to make significant capital investments across a market area to shorten the copper loops. On the other hand, both fiber and cable technologies intrinsically support higher bandwidths, and can support even higher speeds with more incremental investments.

The FCC’s primary conclusions from this study:

1. Many ISPs now closely meet or exceed the speeds they advertise, but there continues to be room for improvement.
2. New metric this year – Consistency of speeds – also shows significant room for improvement.
3. Consumers are continuing to migrate to faster speed tiers.
4. Improvements in Speed are not Uniform Across Speed Tiers Tested
5. There were sharp differences in Upload Speeds

The FCC report says that increasing consumer demand for broadband access is causing congestion on networks due to video streaming services like Netflix. As that demand increases, companies using digital subscriber line (DSL) service (based on copper wires) cannot compete with the growing speeds of cable and fiber Internet.  An official said the FCC plans to act on that issue later this year after obtaining more information. 

Providers using fiber-based broadband connected directly to consumers’ households delivered 113 percent of advertised download speeds and 114 percent of advertised upload speeds, making it the best traffic option available. But telecom companies have not invested in expanding fiber-optic networks, which is the only way to compete with Internet speeds offered by cable companies, says Harold Feld, senior vice president of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.  “We are ultimately heading to a cable monopoly because on the technology side the other technologies cannot keep up,” Feld says, citing arguments made by Susan Crawford, a former tech policy adviser for the Obama administration who is now a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. “We see people want faster speeds, and that DSL as a technology cannot keep up unless companies make very significant investments.” 

This study may help the case for AT&T to purchase DirecTV, as the telecom giant has argued it needs money to upgrade its DSL network. Comcast networks performed well in the study, which may potentially weaken its argument that its customers need more Internet services through the purchase of Time Warner Cable. 



FCC Report


FCC Charts – Measuring Broadband America







Comment from Ken Pyle (viodi.com):

I find it interesting that at least two cable companies announced major increases in their speeds this week. 

as well as this community fiber group (although there speeds are relatively slow).
And Comcast claims to have increased its speeds 13 times in the past 12 years.

Comment from IEEE DIscussion Group Member George Ginis (3 points):

a) The FCC report criticizes the DSL providers not for slow absolute speeds, but for speeds lower than the advertised speeds. This is not criticism directed at the technology, but at business practices. Given that the bottleneck is typically in the access segment, and given that the big majority of DSLs in North America are provisioned in a very conservative way, these providers have the room to push DSL rates higher and address the FCC criticism. In fact, this is what Centurylink did over the past year as noted in the report.
b) I just returned from the TNO DSL conference in the Hague, Netherlands, where I heard about the plans of communications service providers in Europe. Some interesting news: Belgacom and KPN are now offering vectored VDSL at downstream speeds of 70-100Mbps. DT will do the same by the end of the year. Swisscom is about to launch a 100 Mbps service with vectored VDSL, and is planning to roll-out speeds of up to 500 Mbps within 2 years (using the newest vectored DSL standard called g.fast). Competition is very strong among providers, and telcos are fighting hard both on pricing and on speeds to fend off cable providers.
c) I have an AT&T U-verse data-only service delivering a consistent downstream speed of over 20 Mbps, and paying around $60 per month including taxes. It is possible to have U-verse without the TV service, and without the phone service. 

Infonetics: Ethernet/IP MPLS VPN services reached $62.6B in 2013; Security Services to be Impacted by SDN/NFV

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its 2014 Ethernet and IP MPLS VPN Services report, which analyzes the market for wholesale and retail Ethernet services and managed and unmanaged layer 2 and layer 3 IP MPLS VPN services.

Worldwide revenue from Ethernet and IP MPLS VPN services last year totaled $62.6 billion, a 12% improvement from 2012, according to Infonetics. The market research firm credited cloud-based services for the increase. “Both segments are growing at a healthy clip and will continue to do so, with Ethernet services growing about twice as fast as IP MPLS VPNs through 2017,” said Michael Howard of Infonetics.  See below for more quotes from Mr. Howard.

.    The combined global Ethernet services and IP MPLS VPN services markets totaled $62.6 billion in 2013, up 12% from the year prior
.    Keeping the momentum going are cloud services accessed via IP VPNs, Ethernet services, and mobile backhaul transport over Ethernet services
.    Revenue from Ethernet services delivered on 10GE and 100GE is forecast by Infonetics to grow 300% between 2013 and 2018
.    In 2013, Asia Pacific made up the biggest share of Ethernet services revenue and will continue to do so through 2018

“Ethernet services continued to gain momentum in 2013, easily outpacing IP MPLS VPN services. Both segments are growing at a healthy clip and will continue to do so, with Ethernet services growing about twice as fast as IP MPLS VPNs through 2017,” reports Michael Howard, principal analyst for carrier networks and co-founder of Infonetics Research.

Howard adds: “Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technologies will change the way service providers operate their networks and, more important, how they deliver services. The biggest change will come in the types of security services offered over IP MPLS VPNs and Ethernet services-for example, firewalls, SSL VPNs, intrusion detection, parental controls-and the pace at which they’re made available.”

From a related Infonetics report excerpt:  “Historically, data centers have been protected by big-iron security solutions and complex webs of security appliances and load-balancing infrastructure,” says Jeff Wilson, principal analyst for security at Infonetics Research. “But as more providers virtualize their data centers and roll out SDNs and NFV, we anticipate a fairly significant revenue transition from hardware appliances to virtual appliances and purpose-built security solutions that interface directly with hypervisors, with SDN controllers via APIs, or orchestration platforms.”

Read more at: http://www.infonetics.com/pr/2014/2H13-Data-Center-Security-Products-Market-Highlights.asp  and




Infonetics’ annual IP MPLS VPN and Ethernet services report provides market size, forecasts through 2018, analysis, and trends for wholesale and retail Ethernet services (Internet and WAN access, E-LINE, E-LAN services) by speed, and managed and unmanaged layer 2 and layer 3 IP MPLS VPN services. Data is presented by country (U.S., Canada) and region: North America, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa), Asia Pacific, CALA (Caribbean, Latin America) and worldwide.

More info at:  http://www.infonetics.com/pr/2014/Ethernet-and-IP-MPLS-VPN-Services-Market-Highlights.asp

To buy report, contact Infonetics: www.infonetics.com/contact.asp

Join Michael Howard June 19 at 11:00 AM EDT for NFV: An Easier Initial Target Than SDN?, a free, live event for operators exploring use cases, lessons learned, and recommendations for developing NFV projects. Attend live or access the replay at:

AT&T begins GigaPower rollout in Winston-Salem & Durham, NC; Future expansion plans & roll out procedures

AT&T’s GigaPower -which competes with Google Fiber- is currently available in Austin, TX.  This Tuesday, AT&T received approval from the city of Winston-Salem, N.C., to begin building out its FTTH based GigaPower service.  That comes two months after AT&T announced it was in talks with the North Carolina Next Generation Network to bring high-speed fiber to the state. Winston-Salem is one of six cities in North Carolina expected to receive AT&T’s GigaPower service.  Another is Durham, NC, which was announced today:   http://about.att.com/story/att_uverse_with_gigapower_fiber_network_coming_to_durham.html

The company expects GigaPower construction and deployment to begin in other communities this year.  Metro areas being explored for GigaPower include:  Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Ft. Worth, Greensboro, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, Raleigh-Durham, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose/Santa Clara, St. Louis.

This blog from Eric Small, AT&T Vice President of Fiber Broadband Planning, explains some of the more technical aspects as to how the company is rolling out GigaFiber: http://blogs.att.net/consumerblog/story/a7791741


Technical Outline of GigaPower Process:

·         U-verse with GigaPower enables residents who sign up to enjoy speeds of up to 300 megabytes per second

o   Within the next year, AT&T plans to boost speeds to up to 1 gigabyte per second

·         Traditionally, fiber network connection that starts at AT&T’s central switching office. Fiber cable from the office runs to a VRAD equipment box in the neighborhood, which then uses existing copper wires to transmit U-verse signals to homes

o   GigaPower bypasses the VRAD by using a passive optical splitter which runs fiber directly into homes

·         Armored fiber ‘drop’ cable connects the customer home to the network

o   Drop cable connects to the Optical Network Terminal (ONT) outside of the home. A CAT5e or CAT6 cable connects the ONT to the U-verse residential gateway inside the home.

o   Cable splicing is done in the factory instead of the field, saving time and money and enables higher quality connection


More information on GigaPower can be found at:  http://about.att.com/mediakit/gigapower


As part of it’s proposed acquistion of DirecTV, AT&T told the FCC and Justice Dept:

“AT&T commits to deploying high-speed broadband to 15 million new customers as part of the transaction, but only two million will receive high-speed fiber connections.”

AT&T said its U-Verse product, which supplies high-speed broadband and pay-TV services to almost six million customers, could at best cover only a quarter of the nation’s TV households.


Infonetics: Microwave equipment market slides 17% sequentially in 1Q14 (10% according to Dell’Oro Group)

Infonetics Research released excerpts from its 1st quarter 2014 (1Q14) Microwave Equipment report, which tracks time-division multiplexing (TDM), Ethernet, and dual Ethernet/TDM microwave equipment.

.    Microwave equipment revenue totaled $1 billion worldwide in 1Q14, down 17% sequentially, and down 7% from the year-ago quarter
.    Revenue for every microwave product segment-TDM, dual Ethernet/TDM, Ethernet, access, backhaul, transport-declined in 1Q14 from 4Q13
.    Backhaul continues to dominate the microwave market, while access and transport remain stable niche segments
.    Ericsson held steady atop the microwave equipment revenue share leaderboard in 1Q14, while NEC leapfrogged Huawei to claim the #2 spot
.    By 2018, the average revenue per unit (ARPU) for Ethernet-only microwave gear is anticipated to fall to around half its 2013 value

Infonetics’ quarterly microwave equipment report provides worldwide and regional market size, vendor market share, forecasts through 2018, analysis, and trends for Ethernet, TDM, and hybrid microwave equipment by spectrum, capacity, form factor, architecture, and line of sight. Vendors tracked: Alcatel-Lucent, Aviat Networks, Ceragon, DragonWave, Ericsson, Exalt, Huawei, Intracom, NEC, SIAE, ZTE, and others.


 “The proliferation of LTE-A upgrades and small cells deployments was not enough to stop the microwave equipment market from sliding downward in the first quarter of 2014, a casualty of continuing pricing pressures and inter-technology competition with wireline backhaul alternatives, particularly fiber-based solutions,” notes Richard Webb, directing analyst for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics Research. “The seasonal decline was much more severe than usual, suggesting a deeper malaise in the market.”

Webb adds: “Even with the arrival of 5G towards 2018, the microwave backhaul market may be arriving at the limit of demand for increasing backhaul capacity from the cell site, as many will be more than adequately future-proofed by this point.”


To buy the report, contact Infonetics: http://www.infonetics.com/contact.asp

.    China’s huge LTE rollouts and EU network upgrades push carrier capex to $354B this year
.    China Mobile increases capital intensity 6% year-over-year
.    Carriers going gangbusters with WiFi and Hotspot 2.0
.    Small cell market on track to increase 65% this year
.    Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and Cisco get top marks from operators in mobile backhaul survey

According to  Dell’Oro Group, the point-to-point Microwave Transmission equipment market declined 10 percent during the trailing four quarter period ending in the first quarter of 2014.

“Demand for microwave transmission equipment has been under pressure for quite some time with little relief in the first quarter of 2014,” said Jimmy Yu, Vice President of Microwave Transmission research at Dell’Oro Group. “We think things will improve as we enter the second half of the year, but this is largely dependent on improving conditions in two of the primary microwave market regions, Europe and India. On a brighter note, packet microwave sales achieved another quarter of positive growth. We estimate that for the trailing four quarter period ending in 1Q14, packet microwave revenue grew 13 percent year-over-year,” Yu added.

In-line with market demand, nearly all major microwave vendors experienced a year-over-year revenue decline. Among the top vendors, Alcatel-Lucent’s microwave revenues faired the best, growing slightly above zero percent due to their strong market position in the Packet Microwave segment.

Microwave Transmission Market

$3.7 Billion for trailing four quarter period (2Q13 through 1Q14)



Growth Y/Y



– 6 %



– 15 %



+ 0 %



–  2 %

 About the Report

The Dell’Oro Group Microwave Transmission Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, ports/radio transceivers shipped, and average selling prices by capacities (low, high and ultra high). The report tracks point-to-point TDM, Packet and Hybrid Microwave as well as full indoor and full outdoor unit configurations. To purchase this report, email Julie Learmond-Criqui at [email protected].

For more information, contact Dell’Oro Group at +1.650.622.9400 or visit www.DellOro.com.