In the past couple weeks, there’s been a lot of discussion and debate about which telco strategy will win – Verizon’s FTTH play with FiOS, or AT&T’s FTTN strategy with U-verse. Lost in that debate was this country’s third largest telco, Qwest, who also yields significant influence over the telecom landscape. Qwest is following a similar strategy to AT&T, with one major difference. They are not pursuing an IPTV strategy, and are instead (at least for the time being) leveraging a DirecTV partnership for the video portion of their triple play. Qwest CTO Pieter Poll gave an interview to ZDNet’s Between the Lines blog and offered Qwest’s view of the broadband landscape. Here are some interesting takes from the interview:
- For the time being, Qwest is content with a FTTN strategy, utilizing VDSL2 to the home, and delivering a top end speed of 30-35 Mbps
- Poll is not concerned with DOCSIS 3.0, commenting that the 100 Mbps speeds that are associated with it are “a marketing game,” and will not be the reality in the marketplace
- FTTH is simply unrealistic for Qwest because of the cost associated with retro fitting their extensive buried plant assets – a challenge that Verizon does not face with its extensive aerial plant
- Qwest is moving forward with application development and intends to offer their “Q Home” application platform that will among other things, integrate phone service with instant messaging, email, and click-to-call type services
Qwest has taken their fair share of criticism for appearing to be somewhat slower to move into the future than their other “bell” brethren. They’ve punted on IPTV and have no wireless assets of their own, leading to speculation that they will face long term consequences for not being more aggressive with their strategies. But love them or hate them, at least you know where they stand. They’ve decided to follow a different strategy, and are not ashamed to talk about it. All these predictions of winners and losers are somewhat pointless right now. We’re way too early in the broadband game to figure out who wins. Anyone dismissing one strategy over the other is simply speculating. Qwest’s strategy adds some diversity to the mix. They’ll all be worth observing.