Time Warner Threatens To Sue DSL Company Who Claims Speed Advantage

from the study-details-please? dept

Last year, we noted the differentiation strategies between cable and DSL firms in the US. The DSL companies decided to start dropping their prices to entice those who didn’t want to pay extra for cable broadband. Meanwhile, the cable companies believed they could keep their prices high, while claiming a speed advantage. It seemed obvious that DSL would win that battle — as they did. The difference in speed is minimal (though, important to some), but the pricing differential was clear. Besides, as speeds kept improving, DSL companies could claim they were catching up. Now, Broadband Reports has the story of a DSL provider in Maine who conducted a study saying that their DSL was faster than competitor Time Warner’s cable broadband. Time Warner agreed to take part in the study, but later pulled out — questioning the methodology. The end result, not surprisingly, was that the study found the DSL offering was faster than cable. Time Warner disagrees… to the point that they’re threatening to sue the DSL provider for false advertising. Unfortunately, the details aren’t entirely clear. While it certainly does have the appearance of Time Warner being a “sore loser,” the methodology really does matter in a case like this. If the study was only conducted with DSL customers who are very close to the CO, then it’s quite likely they could get speeds higher than cable. However, it would be dishonest to suggest that all DSL customers could reach those same levels. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t get into that level of detail.

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Comments on “Time Warner Threatens To Sue DSL Company Who Claims Speed Advantage”

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anonymoose cow-ard says:

Re: No Subject Given

One of the problems with cable is that everyone on the same cable run shares the same circuit. If you have 100 people in your neighborhood all using their cable modems at the same time, each person gets 1/100th the total bandwidth of the cable.

With DSL, each person has thier own dedicated circuit up to the network interface where the circuits get muxed into fiber (and then they all share the same fiber circuit).

If you’re the only one in your neighborhood using cable, cable wins. If 100 people in your neighborhood use cable (at the same time), DSL would win.

slap! says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

bittorrent thrives off of uploads, but it doesn’t give you a faster connection based on how much you’re uploading. It gives you a faster connection based on how many people are downloading/uploading the same file at the same time.

Honestly, in my area, DSL doesn’t even dare present itself, so Cable wins, hands down. Don’t know how I’d feel if they were around, but oh well.

Concerning the issue at hand, I think Turner has some grounds to call this false advertising. Not on the basis that “Cable is faster”, but on the basis that the study was inept and incomplete, if Turner backed out.

Jeremiah says:

No Subject Given

Cable is faster than DSL…by a LONG shot. At it simplest level, it’s about amperage: the more energy you can put on a wire, the more information it can carry.

Depending on how the physical coax network is configured, coax can support between 24-38Mbps.

The If-All-Your-Neighbors…blah blah is an interesting academic exercise, but for all practical purposes, is moot. To connect the number of users required to clog a cable pipe (with requisite hardware) would be to create a load on the coax that simply coulnd’t be supported from an electrical standpoint. Under most designs, the company would have to install more nodes and amplifiers simply to keep the cable signal strong enough to supply raw signal, much less IP services.

Another pro-DSL argument is the flat topology of cable networks means your data packets can be read by anyone else on your block who chooses to fire up a sniffer. Again, individual network designs will vary, but for the most part, the IP packet is encapsulated for delivery over the coax. When I beta’d @Home’s cable service years ago, I was able to browse my cable block for networked WinME boxes. Today, my sniff shows nothing but my own traffic and ARP requests.

DSL salesgoons will claim that upload speeds are faster on DSL because your upstream isn’t artificially capped (Ok, Surewest’s goons told me this.) This is a lie by omission, as the only way you can get the same upstream on DSL is if you’re close enough to the CO to have ADSL – the “S” and “I” flavors are capped at 256k and 128k respectively.

Obviously, not every cablemodem provider has made the best choices in their network design. No one is immune from stupidity.

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