Saturday, March 15, 2008

High-speed DSL along Grant Line

Couple of wheeks ago telephone technicians installed new cabinets along Grant Line. Some of them draw power and have active cooling, so they have more than just traditional patch panels inside. I bet we're seeng an implementation of Project Pronto at last.

As we all know, DSL's performance drops off dramatically with increased distance from CO. Since local wires get aggregated at neighbourhood patch panels, an easy solution is to install forward nodes at these panels and connect them to CO with fiber. This is much cheaper than FTTC, let alone FTTP, yet reaps most of the benefits. Such deployment was called Project Pronto in PacBell.

When I moved to Tracy, only DSL was available, and it was a horrible torture. Not only the speed was poor (about 368 kbit/s), but the reliability was bad as well. Failures clearly corellated to hot weather, so I suspect some line-conditioning equipment was on its last legs. PacBell ASI rolled the truck a few time, took their measurements, admitted that the line sucked and that they capture the noice, and then did nothing.

I asked them if they had a Pronto terminal in the neighbourhood, and if yes, could they switch me over. They said "no". Therey was no other choice but to suck it up.

As soon as Comcast started offering the cable Internet, I switched, and it was a relatively smooth sailing so far. They did have outages, but not many, and but never longer than one day. Anyway, when I called to terminate my account, the call center girl said, "No, wait a moment, we have a remote terminal in your area, would you want to switch?" Of course by that time I already had cable service, and since PacBell wronged me by not fixing the obvious problem with the line, I insisted that we terminate the DSL.

But that was then. This is now. I am moving to Albuquerque, but you stay in Tracy. Should you get your Internet from former PacBell with the newfanged short-loop DSL?

If I was doing it now, I would give it a try. AT&T owns bother PacBell and Comcast these days, so it's one mega-monopoly now. There's going to be little difference between the two going forward. So it's just the price vs. the speed.

One word of warning though. Many people think that the availability of DSL should be better than cable, because telcos are supposedly reliable and cable is run by a bunch of dorks. I would say, not so. As I mentioned before, I have never been without a cable for more than a day in Tracy, or 4 days in Fremont (back in bad old days of pre-DOCSIS modems and TCI Inc. -- not even @Home). It have however been without a PacBell phone service for 10 days, due to technician making a wrong connection in the local patch panel, and them not bothering to fix it. So no, there's no reliability advantage. In fact, since cable is all-passive from their node to your premises, and Pronto-style DSL isn't, the cable might have it better. So look at prices with that in mind.

It's so sad that DirecWAY is not competitive in suburban setting.


Blogger Makoto said...

Hello, ザイツェヴ
are you Japanese or american ? :-)
I am Japanese who have home in Tracy. I an my family is now live in Bay Area and plan to live Tracy again. How is Tracy now ? My office is San Leandro. I am worry about traffic. :-( Thank you !


11:01 AM  
Blogger ザイツェヴ said...

Actually I was born in Russia. My handle for Blogger is my real name, only katakanized. You can read it easily, I'm sure.

Traffic on 580 is very early in my view. The morning rush starts at 6 and peaks before 9, evening rush starts around 3 and ebbs by 6. So, when I go to my office in Sunnivale, I comfortably leave by 8:30 and get to the office by 10, or a bit later. BTW, look at "Dick Tracy" of -- he commutes to East Bay somewhere. I think it's not as bad as they make it.

8:42 PM  

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