Verizon's 10, 15 Mbps DSL service is great if you can actually get it

Sean Buckley, FierceTelecomVerizon (NYSE: VZ) this week introduced new 10 and 15 Mbps DSL speed tiers in its non-FiOS markets in what could be seen as another defensive play against cable. Residential and SMB customers that reside outside of a Verizon FiOS territory were pretty much relegated to the lower speed 4-7 Mbps with a whopping 768 Kbps upload.

Basically, the new offerings take advantage of Verizon's deployment of ADSL2+ throughout its respective markets. 
Even though the Verizon speed tiers are competitively priced, they aren't without their catches.

Although the new offerings are competitively priced at $49.99, if you want standalone DSL, well, you have to pay an extra $10 price of $59.99. The baseline dual-play SMB package runs $89.99 a monthwith a two-year agreement and $99.99 without a contract.

But the bigger limitation, when you peel back the onion a bit further, is the actual availability of the service.

Given the physical limitations of copper facilities if you live beyond the 7,000 foot mark, the reality is well, you're out of luck. Instead, you'll have to slug along with the lower speed option or go to your local cable company such as Cablevision, Comcast or Cox that's already offering 50 and even 100 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 packages.

Of course, Verizon touts that its service is better than cable because it has a dedicated connection.

What's interesting is that many people--even in densely populated areas such as Washington, D.C.--aren't eligible for the service as Washington Post columnist Rob Pegaro quickly found out. After plunking in the names of 13 of his friends and fellow journalists that reside in the D.C. area into Verizon's online eligibility tool, Pegaro found "none came up as eligible for its fastest DSL."

Beyond this deployment, one that Verizon says will benefit about four million users, it does not appear that Verizon plans on new deployments or upping the ante of its DSL speeds with VDSL2 in a Fiber to the Node (FTTN)-like configuration taken by its RBOC counterparts AT&T and Qwest. Verizon believes that if they do anything else with fiber, they'll just go all the way to the home.

Okay, well that's great, but for those subscribers who can't get FiOS or the higher speed DSL services yet, DSL Prime's Dave Burstein says you probably won't get it anytime soon.

"Given that the majority of customers are beyond the 7,000 foot cutoffs for the 10-15 meg service, that means they have ADSL2+ to about a third of the network," Burstein wrote. "Most of the rest are behind remote terminals or connected to DSLAMS 5-12 years old, neither of which are scheduled for volume upgrades."

Taking it a step further, the service provider openly admitted in a Light Reading article that even though Verizon is bullish about the reception it thinks it will get from the new service, John Schommer, director of broadband product development for Verizon, said the latest DSL offering could be "the last copper upgrade, unless something new comes along."

Not only is Verizon not going to expand its DSL network reach, but in March, Verizon revealed that it would basically focus on expanding its FiOS presence in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia. Other major cities such as Baltimore and Boston don't appear to be part of the current deployment plan.

Okay, so the new 10 and 15 Mbps tiers and FiOS are great if you can actually get it. At some point Verizon will have to consider another aggressive fiber upgrade, even it at the expense of angering Wall Street, to ward off long-term encroachment in markets where these services aren't available.--Sean

P.S.--Fierce Telecom will not be published on Monday as the staff will be observing the Labor Day Holiday. We'll be back on Tuesday morning bringing you the latest up to date news on the wireline segment of the telecommunications industry.