Widespread Competition to Cable Internet Ramping Up

Discussion in 'Cable TV Discussion' started by 1948GG, Jan 10, 2021.

  1. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

    Aug 4, 2007
    Two factors are rapidly taking aim at the so-called duopoly of cable and telco internet providers (although telco has been much smaller in both reach, speed, and bandwidth except for the minimal fiber plants around the country), and most folks have their attention on space based systems like Starlink; however, even at ramped up launches of 120 per month, it may be 3+ years before even most of the US is well covered.

    Another competitor that is rapidly going to give the cablecos some worry is wireless providers, who have been rolling out 4g systems for well over a year and are now rapidly pushing 5g systems at mid-band and higher frequencies: Specifically TMobile, which has started extensive rollout of the 5g (band 41) 2nd generation wireless home internet. At prices close to half that of cable, at download as well as upload speeds double to quadruple or more (with no caps), cable exec's have to be quaking in their expensive loafers.

    Comcasts recent extension of caps to the northeast should be seen as truly crazy. Having had to spend almost double for unlimited data for years out west, the recent post-covid price drops have been nice ($120/month to $80 on 100/5 speeds) but recent upgrades of my local towers to 5g/band 41 have me pulling the trigger for 200/35+ @ $50. Some 20 years ago I was on sprint wimax 2.5ghz service for some 5 years and it was great until the local small cableco was bought out by comcast and sprint closed down WiMax service.

    Is Comcast going to respond? I'm going to give TMobile a try if they don't.
  2. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

    Mar 4, 2006
    Herrin, IL
    I have to question the ‘no caps’ part of TMobile’s offering. I use a bit over 1TB a month with my cable service and wonder if TMobile would allow for that.
  3. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

    Jun 14, 2003
    Salem, OR
    Until they release Starlink on the general populace, it should be summarily ignored by consumers. Early promises and reports from testers aren't reliable data on a system that is clearly tied to the number of customers.

    Caps have to be there to insure fairness to other customers. Such is not to say that they have to be unreasonably low.

    Then there's the wireless companies that peddle what the FTC is letting them get away with calling "unlimited" service that surely has limits on it.

    I think it may be necessary that, like utilities, cable franchises are granted at the state level where the bigs can be distributed more evenly across the landscape and the smaller companies get a chunk of some juicier pie so there is some better parity between players.
  4. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator

    Apr 17, 2003
    "At T-Mobile unlimited is truly unlimited. No overages or data caps apply on our network. Data prioritization will only be noticeable when you access a congested tower and have used over 50GB of data in a particular billing cycle."
  5. compnurd

    compnurd Hall Of Fame

    Apr 23, 2007
    Evans City PA
  6. lparsons21

    lparsons21 Hall Of Fame

    Mar 4, 2006
    Herrin, IL
    Yeah I’ve seen that. And that ‘50GB of data’ implies that what they think is unlimited is still far away from actual unlimited and would not be a competitor to cable at all.
  7. Richard

    Richard Legend

    Apr 23, 2002
    South Texas
    In my opinion, wireless may be another provider, but they are not competition. They are who you use when wired is not available.
  8. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

    Aug 4, 2007
    Or when wired is excessive cost, poor reliability, or poor throughput. In my neck of the woods, in fact in the entire state, the reliability of comcast is actually excellent, even out in the rural areas. But the speeds and pricing, in comparison to the other docsis cable operator (wave), is poor. In order to get decent upstream speeds, one has to buy excessive downstream bits. Why dont they unlock their tiers and sell the speeds individually? I dont need a huge amount of download bits, but would like (and would pay) for more upload. I did for quite a while, but it just got too excessive, whether on business class or residential.

    If one trolls through the starlink postings on youtube or reddit, the most major thumbs up comes from folks who no longer have to drive miles into town to find a wifi with decent upstream so they can post stuff; their current dsl or cable upstream is so poor.

    I've been trying to find specs on the newer band 41 5g tmobile home internet, but have only found hints as to how it works. For one, it uses both 4glte on the 2ghz band 66 and the 2.5ghz band 41, depending on which may be in heavy use. So far, users are reporting excellent throughput but of course the loading is probably minimal right now, as the 5g terminals just came out and the number of band 41 5g handsets available can be counted on the fingers of one hand. But in my case, I have three tmobile towers within 3 miles of where I live out in the sticks (the closest at 850meters). But I think that the cablecos will be rethinking how they sell their connections, just as they have in the last 6 months or so.
  9. 1948GG

    1948GG Icon

    Aug 4, 2007
    Tmobile chose Ericsson as its 5g provider, and I still have a fair amount of their translating tech in my mind after dealing with their product line some 30+ years ago. So base line, the band 41 minimal configuration yields some 5.6gb/s utilizing half of the old sprint frequencies, and keep in mind two things: more fcc sales in the upper part of 2.5ghz is in the near term offering they must be eyeing, as well as the 3.7ghz lower cband that is being repurposed from satellite, although Verizon (at&t?) is eyeing that like there's no tomorrow, so the cost may go through the roof there.

    Be that as it may, current holdings mean that well over 100 subscribers @ 100mb/s full duplex per tower could be supported. So just how much oversubscribing would be in place, typical telco rule of thumb is 4:1, so that would yield 400 per tower. Looking at my usage, which is quite a bit above what I would consider 'typical', with 4 roku's plus a pc and 3 handsets, typical base usage is some 35mb/s downstream with 5mb/s upstream; so about 1/3rd that maximum, so even if all the potential subscribers loaded the system at my rate, each tower could support >1600+ subscribers. Cutting usage in half (2 roku's, 1.5 handsets and pc's), double it again to 3000+.

    So, looking at my particular slice of rural america with 3 towers (just a bit further some 6 miles are another couple towers but leave them out if the equation), we're looking at supporting some 10k customers.

    However, let's look at this 2nd generation 5g unit, apparently being built by Nokia/Alcatel/Lucent. No external antenna port, which means its usefulness out in the countryside is lacking; all the YouTube videos I've watched seem not to realize that the units I eternal battery is useful only to help site the unit for best reception, as both the wifi and gigabit wired ports go dead when the ac power brick is pulled. So if you want to maintain usage during power outages, plugging the brick up to a ups is required. But again, none of the YouTube videos I've seen has the 'reviewers' siteing the unit for maximum bars on the signal strength meter (which remains live running off internal battery power) so the top throughput isn't achieved. This is like the folks doing Starlink reviews without simultaneously running a satellite app that tells one how many of the sats are overhead at any given time, letting one know when connection dropouts due to lack of sats occur (and how those dropouts are being minimized as the sats are being rerouted), or how much sat bandwidth is available with multiple sats overhead.

    Anyway, this is all pretty rough calculations based on the extremely minimal technical info out there, but so far it seems to be in line with how they are marketing the system. The biggest drawback that wired systems (read: cable docsis3.1) has vrs either leosats or cellular data is upstream constraints. And it really isn't that docsis doesn't have the ability to up the ante there, as both business class and comcasts primary cable competitor (in my area) provide much higher upstream bits with the same level of downstream (at the same price), but comcast requires residential customers to subscribe to much higher tiers of downstream (at double or triple the cost) to get that bandwidth.

    Marketeers. The bane of any technical product existence. Failure to adjust their offerings will result in loss of customers they can't or won't be able to explain.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2021

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