Getting DSL to 40Mbps and Faster While We Build Fiber

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The copper telephone network has had a long and productive life, but its days are numbered. Landline phones are at long last going the way of the telegraph, and DSL technology’s ability to squeeze more bandwidth out of a phone line is nearing its limit. More and more, companies like ours are investing in Fiber-To-The-Premise (FTTP) in order to keep up with the ever increasing demand for bandwidth. Trouble is, building out fiber takes time, and our customers are demanding faster service now.

In 2016, OTELCO Engineers rose to meet this challenge by developing a solution that leverages the excess copper left behind by those vanishing phone lines and off-the-shelf technologies to deliver more bandwidth to consumers. The result: a broadband product based on regular DSL that delivers speeds of 40Mbps or faster on telephone lines of reasonable length.

How OTELCO Delivers Speeds Faster than 40Mbps Using DSL

Getting a DSL service beyond 40Mbps is most often achieved through a process called “Bonding” – tying two or more DSL lines together to expand bandwidth.  This is very often seen in business products such as “Ethernet over Copper,” which delivers symmetrical connections in of as much as 40Mbps using as many as 8 lines of Symmetric DSL (SDSL). Unfortunately, this technology hasn’t translated well to the consumer market, which uses mostly Asymmetric DSL (ADSL) and demands a lower cost structure. The added costs associated with the additional loops can make it expensive for homeowners, and most of the time customers are too far from DSL equipment to get 40Mbps or more with two lines.

Enter a technique our Engineering team calls DSL Aggregation. Using two to four standard DSL circuits and an external router, we’re able to aggregate the bandwidth from those four circuits so that they act as one connection with much higher bandwidth.

 

40Mbps DSL Aggregation

Expanding the number of DSL lines from 2 to 4 allows OTELCO to offer products that are 25mbps or Faster and 40Mbps or Faster on DSL.  Not only that, it makes 10Mbps and Faster much more broadly available on long lines in rural areas.

By the way – notice I haven’t said “UP TO” anywhere in this article?  More on that next week!

What About The Cost?

We know only too well that a homeowner’s tight budget makes them reluctant to pay more for bandwidth, so we were determined to change our model and make the upgrades in bandwidth bigger and the up-charge in prices small. For one thing, we had to look at costs a little differently.

Although the costs of DSL modems and aggregation routers are relatively low, our initial installation times were four hours long, so labor costs were high. In addition considerable copper pairs and CO equipment were being utilized. On the surface, it looked as if the costs of the loops would prevent us from offering the price points  that consumers would like.

Then we decided we had to make the assumption that the loops themselves were free.

Clearly, it cost us something to put those lines on the poles and it costs us something to maintain them, but at the end of the day in many areas they are going unused as more people drop their landline service. Moreover, our obligation to serve means that we have to maintain them anyway.  The money has already been spent. When we removed these so called “sunk costs” from our analysis, we found we were able to make our pricing goals work.

Not Convinced?  The Proof is in the Bandwidth Plans.

In the end, we were able to deliver a product to many of our service areas that was price competitive with cable and a huge step-up from what we had previously offered. The before-and-after speeds offered are here:

Before

After

Up to 4mbps

5mbps or Faster

Up to 6mbps

10mbps or Faster

Up to 10mbps

25mbps or Faster

Up to 12mbps

40mbps or Faster

What does it cost? Check our pricing in your area here.

What’s the catch?

Our new high speed internet services using DSL aggregation work well and are priced affordably, but like all technologies, they’re not without limitations. For one thing, they are subject to available copper cable. Although we have excess copper in many areas, some of our most rural customers may not have extra copper available because they and their neighbors have kept their landlines due to lack of cellular service.

In addition, we will ask you for a half-day installation window when you order – not because we can’t schedule an appointment, but because it actually takes that long.

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