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The DSL death march continues….

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The slow death march of DSL continues, especially at two of the largest phone companies in America. Last week, Verizon (s VZ) reported a loss of about 89,000 DSL connections and a boom in demand for its faster fiber optic service, FiOS, which added about 193,000 new subscribers. We are seeing similar trends at AT&T (s T) as well. Things are so bad at Ma Bell, that it buried the news at the bottom of the earnings release.

AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet delivered a first-quarter net gain of 718,000 subscribers to reach a total of 5.9 million, more than offsetting losses from DSL. Overall, AT&T added 103,000 wireline broadband connections. About 45 percent of consumers have a broadband plan delivering speeds up to 6 Mbps or higher versus 35 percent in the year-ago quarter.

The net addition of 103,000 broadband subscribers is an improvement from the fourth quarter of 2011 (ended December 31) when the company saw a net decline of 49,000 in total broadband subscribers.   AT&T lost close to 615,000 classic DSL connections during the first quarter of 2012. In the fourth quarter of 2011, AT&T lost about 636,000 connections.

With more people using broadband to access all sorts of bandwidth-consuming services such as Spotify, Netflix (s nflx) and MLB games, it is pretty clear that the classic DSL isn’t enough. The change in demand patterns is reflective of that. For U-Verse, AT&T uses a combination of fiber-to-the-node technology  to deliver video, voice and data service.

That said, I think that AT&T is not really interested in pushing standalone wireline broadband services. Instead it wants to  focus on either the triple-play packages (voice, video and data) or the the more lucrative mobile business — much like Verizon. Why deal with net neutrality and fight for caps, when you can charge an arm and a leg for LTE?

7 Responses to “The DSL death march continues….”

  1. What is “classic dsl”? Does that refer to a speed or a technology?
    And why would Spotify be mentioned as a big bandwidth consumer?
    (it’s just music, right? surely must be less than 200kb/s?)

  2. pravesh

    When the vectoring comes, the DSL is going to rise again. Vectoring enables the cancellation of the crosstalk that has been the major factor in limiting data rates in the DSL. Due to vectoring, the data rates would go as high as 100 Mbps. Watch out for it.

  3. BeachGal64

    What about the areas where you are left with only two choices for internet – cable and DSL. Verizon refuses to bring FiOS internet services to a lot of areas. Don’t count out DSL yet. My home is very close to the CO, so DSL works extremely well. However, we are literally at the end of the line for Cable internet service. It is so bad that DSL is better. I would love to get FiOS or an AT&T alternative, but since Verizon won’t run FiOS everywhere, we’re SOL.

  4. Lee Ratliff

    Om, you can’t continue to write these articles without differentiating between ADSL and VDSL. It’s true that AT&T lost 615k ADSL subscribers in Q1, but you fail to point out explicitly that the 718k new U-verse subscribers are using VDSL connections. Therefore, AT&T is *growing* their total DSL business. To use their subscriber numbers to illustrate the “death of DSL” is misguided. There is a case to be made for declining DSL, but AT&T is the wrong example to use.

  5. William Diaz ✔

    It took AT&T 5 years from them promoting U-Verse “Coming in 2 Months!” in my area to actually start offering it. As it turns out, they only are offering U-Verse Internet and not the TV that goes along with it, which is actually half the best part. I went with another company that provides DSL and soon Fiber in my area (build out now, and in 2 more years actual service).

  6. Albert Sims

    Are they taking into account any rises in independent DSL provider subscribers? I dropped AT&T DSL last May when they announced monthly data caps and moved to a small, regional DSL provider with no caps.