Altice is reducing its Internet download speeds by 86 percent starting July 12. Altice Optimum Online plans that currently advertise download speeds of 35Mbps will be reduced to offerings of either 5Mbps, 10Mbps, or 20Mbps. depending on the plan. Altice did not announce any immediate price changes on the plans receiving the loading-speed cuts.
The only good news for users is that the change will not affect existing customers as long as they stay on their current service plans, an Altice spokesperson told Ars. But new customers will have to accept lower upload speeds, and existing customers will have to accept lower upload speeds whenever they upgrade, downgrade, or change service, Altice said.
Altice says its cable network doesn’t have any problems offering the current advertised speeds. “Our network continues to perform very well despite significant data usage increases during the pandemic and the speed levels offered,” the company said. The transfer-speed change was apparently implemented not to solve any network problem but to match the slower upload speeds offered by other cable ISPs. Altice told Ars that it changed its USB upload speeds to bring them “in line with other ISPs and in line with the industry.”
Altice’s current 100Mbps download plan comes with 35Mbps downloads. But those uploads will drop to 5Mbps, an 86 percent cut. A 200Mbps plan with a 35Mbps upload today will only get a 10Mbps upload after the July 12 changeover date. The 300Mbps and 500Mbps download plans that currently have 35Mbps uploads will be cut to 20Mbps on the upload side. Download speeds will remain the same.
Additionally, Altice’s 400Mbps download plan is being cut from 40Mbps uploads to 20Mbps, while the gigabit-download plan’s upload speeds are being cut from 50Mbps to 35Mbps. Like a Stop hat thing on Monday noticed, Altice list of upcoming changes in the chart on your website:
Altice touts cable but is still mostly USB-only
Altice notes that the fiber-to-the-home service provides analog speeds, with transmissions as high as downloads. When asked why not raise cable upload speeds instead of lowering them, Altice told Ars, “Over the past few years, we’ve been investing in building a 100 percent network. which is currently available to over one million homes—and growing fast—and offers analog speeds of up to 1Gbps.”
But “100 percent fiber network” doesn’t mean that Altice will upgrade all or even most of its fiber customers to fiber. It’s “100 percent fiber” in the sense that consumers’ fiber footprint won’t be limited by old fiber cables.
1 million homes are wired reported just 20 percent of Altice’s footprint, so most of its customers can not get symmetrical speeds. Altice tell the investor that it will add 500,000 more homes to its cable network this year. With sea and ocean, Altice offers service in 21 states and has 4.4 million Internet customers at the end of Q1 2021.
Altice bought Suddenlink in 2015 and Cablevision in 2016, becoming the fourth largest cable operator behind Comcast, Charter, and Cox. The upload speed changes will be rolled out to all parts of Altice’s network, as the company told Ars that it is “tracking the speed levels that pass at our feet.”
Cable keeps uploading higher without delivering
For years, the cable industry has been teasing future upgrades that will allow cable networks to achieve download and upload speeds just like cable networks do. But despite upgrades to DOCSIS, the Data Service Over Cable Communications Standard, major cable providers generally don’t offer download speeds higher than 35Mbps.
Altice cutting its cable upload speeds while building speed-symmetric cable is another indication that cable will maintain its dominance over cable networks for the foreseeable future. A year ago, Cox dropped download speeds in some areas due to congestion, and no cable network appeared close to delivering download speeds to customers.
Comcast recently conducted a lab test in which it used DOCSIS 4.0 to deliver 4Gbps uploads and downloads over cable, but the company gave no indication when it would top commercial cable download speeds. Like Altice, Comcast only offers asymmetric speeds on its cable network, which is not as widespread as its cable footprint.
Comcast and Charter’s advertised loading speeds on cable networks they still top out at 35Mbps, and customers have to buy a gigabit download plan to get that 35Mbps upload rate. Comcast’s slow plan only has 3Mbps uploads, and Charter’s slow plan has 4Mbps uploads. (Correction: Comcast contacted Ars to let us know that its minimum speed has been increased to 5Mbps.)
Disclosure: The Advance/Newhouse Agreement, which includes section 13 of the Charter, is part of Advance Declarations. Advance Publications is Condé Nast, which owns Ars Technica.