Speaking at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners summer meeting in Los Angeles, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson made a rather interesting statement for the CEO of a company that sells DSL service
: he called the technology "obsolete." "We built DSL back in 1997 to chase David’s company and now that’s obsolete," Stephenson stated (and confirmed by attendees), referring to Comcast and Comcast EVP David Cohen.
Since all of AT&T's customers are still technically on some flavor of DSL (albeit VDSL for some), and somewhere around 45% of AT&T customers will be stuck on "last generation" DSL with no sign of upgrades anytime soon
, Stephenson effectively argued that his own company is obsolete. That was an executive misstep Comcast was more than happy to point out on Twitter
It's an amusing quote for those who've watched AT&T put upgrades on the back burner despite being in the broadband business. That policy has resulted in AT&T forgoing more robust fiber to the home upgrades, and settling for VDSL. While less expensive, it has left them trailing cable in terms of maximum throughput and HD capacity in upgraded markets, with an even-less competitive product everywhere else. These policies also drove the company's decision to impose 150GB to 250GB caps
on said slow, distance-constrained and expensive "obsolete" DSL.
We'll assume that AT&T's hired PR firms will soon issue a statement insisting Stephenson was misquoted, though to some Stephenson's DSL observation may be the most honest thing he's said all year.