August 9, 2004 11:57 AM PDT

SBC gets up to speed

In an attempt to differentiate itself from its cable rivals, SBC Communications on Monday said it has boosted upload speeds for its broadband Internet customers.

Customers of SBC Yahoo DSL Express now get an upload speed of 256kbps, up from 128kbps. For its more expensive DSL Pro tier, SBC has raised uploads to 416kbps from 384kbps. By late fall, SBC says, it will have raised DSL Express and DSL Pro upload speeds further, to 384kbps and 512kbps, respectively.

The move by SBC, the nation's largest DSL provider, is unique--at least in recent years. DSL companies have pursued a price-based strategy rather than the speed-based approach cable providers have marketed. Local phone giants such as SBC and Verizon Communications have cut their monthly DSL fees, while Comcast, Time Warner Cable and other cable providers have nearly doubled their download speeds.


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SBC hopes that raising upload speeds will attract customers who want better performance when sharing photos or playing online games. But there are questions as to how much the millions of Americans considering upgrading to broadband look at upload rates.

"I wouldn't say upload speeds will be a major differentiator for most customers," said Jim Penhune, an analyst at Strategy Analytics. "People understand download speeds are the main event, and that's going to enable most of the compelling applications that people are aware of, like file sharing and downloading music."

SBC's DSL Express package offers download speeds between 384Kbps and 1.5MB per second; DSL Pro promises download rates from 1.5MB to 3.0MB per second.

Regardless of whether upload speed matters, SBC's strategy of aggressive price promotions seems to be working. Last quarter, SBC added 315,000 new DSL lines for a total of 4.3 million subscribers, up from 304,000 added last year. SBC is now the nation's second-largest broadband provider--behind Comcast, which has 6 million subscribers.

SBC and other Baby Bells have reduced their monthly fees in hopes of attracting customers who would otherwise go to cable. SBC offers its DSL Express for $26.95, the lowest among the major players. In contrast, cable providers charge about $45 a month for their service.

Despite the price gap, cable continues to outpace DSL in overall market share. Cable companies have distanced their lead by bundling broadband into their video programming and voice services to create a "triple play" package in one bill. The Bells have also followed suit by striking deals with satellite TV companies and adding mobile-phone deals to their packages.

6 comments

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Speed doesn't matter if you can't get the service
Since I live in an area where SBC has chosen to not upgrade their infrastructure to support DSL, it doesn't really matter how much they up the speed - either upstream or downstream.

The cable company, however, is more than happy to offer me high-speed internet at a comparable price.
Posted by rorywohl (47 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SBC vs Cable
SBC said they could match or beat cable speeds. I took them up on the deal, only to find out thier not ready yet, maybe by year end. By year end I may be with cable. At least they deliver.
Posted by cobraii1976 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cable Sucks
SBC doesn't limit your download as almost 95% of cable company's do. I think 40 to 100 GB's is all you can download before they shut you off.
Posted by simcity1976 (136 comments )
Link Flag
Cable DOES Suck!
I got COMCAST offering 3Gigabite/1.5 Gb... and I wouldn't touch their DSL for free!

The way they have raised cable rates (Doubled in 3 years) I would feel safe, $-wise!!!!!

I use QWEST DSL at 1.5Gb/784Mb and am completely satisfied thankyou!
Posted by Aardasp (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Woops!
I meant:
...I WOULD NOT feel safe, $-wise...!!!

... I've got to try not getting soooooo worked-up when I mention... "COMCAST"..... EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

woops, did it again... UGH!!
Posted by Aardasp (31 comments )
Link Flag
So does DSL
I tried Qwest DSL. Usually I got around 512 kbps, and couldn't get any better than 600 because I live too far from the distribution point.

I've got Comcast, and am quite pleased with the 3.0 Mbps.

5 times the speed at the same $50/mo cost.
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
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