Why are the modem speeds provided on Qwest phone lines so slow?

A normal 56K bits-per-second modem will often provide speeds of up to about 53K, if the user is on a telephone line that has an uninterrupted copper connection to the telephone company central office, and if that central office is digital.

In the Ruby Ranch neighborhood, however, it is impossible to get modem speeds faster than about 26K. The reason for this is that the neighborhood does not have a copper connection to the central office. Instead, the neighborhood gets its analog dial tones from a subscriber loop carrier box (SLC), also sometimes called a "remote terminal." The dial tones provided by the SLC are of such poor quality that modems can't connect faster than 26K.

loop carrier box the loop carrier box
distance to CO map showing the neighborhood, the loop carrier box, and the central office

And why won't Qwest provide DSL?

Qwest has said that it cannot say when, if ever, it will provide DSL in our neighborhood or indeed anywhere in our county. We think one reason why Qwest won't provide DSL in our neighborhood is that we are on the wrong side of the SLC. Qwest can't serve us by means of a DSLAM in the central office, because the SLC is in the way. We think Qwest can't serve us by means of a DSLAM in the SLC, because Qwest hasn't figured out how to fit the DSLAM in the SLC or how to bring enough bandwidth to the SLC from the central office.

What's particularly irritating about this is that when Qwest mails out its bills for telephone service, it includes brochures saying how wonderful its DSL service is and urging the customer to sign up for Qwest DSL. (The postage on these billing envelopes is, of course, paid for by Qwest customers.) Yet if you call the number on the brochure and say you live in our neighborhood (or indeed anywhere in Summit County), Qwest will inform you that DSL is not available.

The SLC gets in the way of DSL from Qwest, but it also gets in the way of DSL provided by anybody else. Most parts of Summit County are served by SLCs rather than by means of direct connections to the central office. This means that if a would-be DSL provider were to put a DSLAM in the central office, many if not most would-be customers would be unable to connect to it because an SLC would be in the way.