Hey Qwest: Fake Fiber Is DSL in Disguise

Qwest, our local phone company–the company that owns all of the phone lines in the city, ran this full page ad in the Oregonian. Qwest is eager to advertise their “Fiber-optic* fast connection speeds up to 20 Mbps.”

Qwest Ad for Fake Fiber
Qwest Ad from 3/26 Oregonian

What Qwest is less eager to advertise is the little asterisk on “fiber-optic” which leads to the fine print “Fiber-optics exist only from the neighborhood terminal to the Internet.” So, if you happen to live in the neighborhood node, this is a pretty great deal. Unfortunately, the node in my neighborhood is about 4 or 5 blocks away, and the size of a doghouse. Really, Qwest is selling plain old DSL, but they’ve moved the DSLAM (the device that creates the DSL signal on the phone line) into a box in your neighborhood, and connected it back to their office with fiber-optics. They could just as easily call their service “Ethernet fast connections,” because somewhere, far away from your home, they use Ethernet to connect equipment to the Internet.

Don’t be fooled by DSL service disguised as fiber-optics. The only truly fiber-optic service is one where the connection between your home or business all the way back to the data-center is fiber-optic. That is the only fiber service that will offer 1Gbps speeds. The best fiber service will also be open-access, allowing any service provider to compete to offer you the services you want. Qwest’s fake fiber doesn’t provide any of that, but open-access, community fiber would.

Qwest’s ad calls their service “100% fast. 50% off.” It would be more accurate to call it 50% fast, and 100% off. Qwest doesn’t offer fiber speeds or fiber service and they never will. That’s one reason Portland responded to Google’s Fiber for Communities RFI, and it’s one reason that we shouldn’t be content until we have a citywide, open-access, fiber to the home infrastructure.

2 thoughts on “Hey Qwest: Fake Fiber Is DSL in Disguise

  1. In my opinion, if Google fails to come through, we set up a non-profit and start looking for some money to build a demonstration project. A few million would finance the first neighborhood and backhaul to the Pittock Building. My sense is that by proving its viability, the remainder of the City could be financed. Construction costs would be repaid with subscription fees.

    Where to get the first phase money? Good question. We could try to get something on the ballot. In mostly Republican Lafayette Louisiana, city voters chose 2-to-1 to back a municipal (socialist?) fiber network there. They are getting 50 Mbps (symmetric) for under $60/month (unbundled with other available services, like voice and video).

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