In a new marketing push, AT&T Fiber is seizing on the inherent disadvantage of cable broadband service – its slower upload speed capabilities. Contrasted with fiber broadband, current DOCSIS-based broadband service delivers much slower upload speed.
Upload speed has become much more of an issue these days, thanks to the pandemic. With so many people both working and schooling from home, upload bandwidth is at a premium. Family members are competing with each other for the “precious” upload commodity, which is important for video conference calls, remote learning, and online gaming, among other applications.
OpenVault tracks bandwidth usage through its OVBI index and has reported on the historic growth in upload traffic. According to the OVBI, at the beginning of the pandemic, upload traffic growth increased by close to 80% from 2019, a trend that continued throughout 2020.
With cable broadband’s upload limitations, you would think DOCSIS-based broadband providers would have a major problem on their hands. It’s a problem AT&T is hoping to capitalize on with its new marketing campaign.
Yet, the numbers don’t support the assertion. For the most part, cable broadband providers are performing quite well during the pandemic. Large cable broadband providers, despite the upload issue, are having some of their best broadband years on record.
Comcast added 538K broadband subscribers in 4Q 2020, and a total of 2 million in all of 2020, both of which are the best on record for the company. Both AT&T and Verizon are also seeing better fiber broadband growth, but it pales in comparison to the numbers cable broadband providers are delivering.
Whatever they are doing, cable broadband providers are convincing customers that their broadband service, slow upload speeds or not, is not only good enough, but obviously better when compared to the competition.
There does seem to be a small, and perhaps, growing crack in this cable broadband armor. A group of Baltimore teenagers started a campaign against Comcast and its Internet Essentials program, which provides discounted 25/3 Mbps service.
The teens complained the service was not adequate for remote learning activities, and even enlisted a Comcast insider to support their claim. Comcast responded, kind of. It increased the upload speed on that package from 3 Mbps to 5 Mbps.
Time will tell whether all of these new cable broadband customers are okay with slower upload speeds. Will they eventually regret not switching to more upload capable fiber broadband? The cable industry is addressing this issue. The industry’s 10G initiative will dramatically improve cable broadband upload speeds.