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Lightspeed Slowing? Part II

Phil Harvey
5/30/2006

6:30 PM -- If AT&T were anywhere near succeeding with Lightspeed, why would there be so much sentiment to the contrary?

I ask because I'm under the impression that folks really want this thing to work. It could drive down cable prices, force better customer service out of the dish companies, and maybe give some real exposure to Internet-based video programs (as they'd finally be viewable by a mass audience from comfy living rooms, as opposed to on tiny laptop screens in gray cubicles).

But the knock against Lightspeed is that AT&T doesn’t have the bandwidth to roll out HDTV and that it may not in the near future.

The analysts have voiced their concerns.

And AT&T's Chris Rice has defended the carrier's bandwidth calculations by saying the company can reach homes up to 3,000 feet away from the central office with bandwidth speeds at between 30 and 40 Mbit/s. "At 5,000 feet we’re getting 20 to 25 [Mbit/s] with VDSL2, and with bonding capability we’ll be able to get those who are at 20 to 25 to, you know, 30 meg to 40 meg and, coupled with compression on video, we think will be plenty of bandwidth," Rice said.

In my notes, from a month or so ago, AT&T's PR department sent along a similar statement:

Using VDSL2, we're seeing speeds of 20-25 Mbps at up to 4,000 feet, even more at shorter loop lengths. On average, we're bringing fiber to within 3,000 feet of customers' homes. This gives us more than adequate bandwidth to provide four streams of high-quality video (including one high-definition stream), high-speed Internet access and, in the future, consumer voice over IP services. In addition, pair bonding and compression improvements will give us the ability to offer additional bandwidth as needed moving forward.

The two statements don't exactly match up -- one says 20-25 Mbit/s at 4,000 feet, the other says 30-40 Mbit/s at 3,000 feet. But all sides of AT&T admit that the carrier is anticipating improvements in bonding and compression to improve throughput.

But when will those of us on the outside know when those improvements are in the bag?

— Phil Harvey, Lightspeeding Editor, Light Reading

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