Believe it or not, right here in Albuquerque, a 21st-century metropolis that some science fiction writers once imagined as the future capital of the Solar System, there are still many neighborhoods and small areas where it is impossible to get highspeed DSL Internet access. Even more surprisingly, not all of these dead zones are on the fringes of the urban sprawl, either. Some are located right in the busy heart of the city.

One such residential dead zone, for instance, is right next to Coronado mall. It’s just a mile or so away from our Uptown office, yet as far as getting DSL service, it might as well be in the middle of the desert. Other DSL dead zones are scattered between Singer and Osuna, along the Jefferson Corridor, out toward Alameda and Los Ranchos, around Yale and I-25 up towards the Sunport, and even up by Juan Tabo and Central.

Smaller patches also exist here and there seemingly without reason – one popular coffee shop on Menaul, for example, can’t get DSL at all, yet a vacant lot across the street could be provided with 3-5 MB without any problem. The holes in DSL coverage are not uniform by any means, and there are no helpful maps or listings.

In fact, the information above was gleaned from remarks of our installers. But it turns out that there is a way to know. The only way to actually find out if DSL is possible at a particular address is to prequalify it. This is an oracular process whereby we invoke the phone company’s database and query it about the address. The curt answer will come back yea or nay, and if yes, then with a list of all possible speeds that are available right there. No other information is bestowed, such as why or when, either.

But since prequalification is the first step in getting, or upgrading, any kind of DSL service, SWCP will be happy to do it for you for free and without any obligation. Just call or email with your address, or you can do it yourself here on our website with our Prequalification Form.

If you can get DSL at your location, we’d be happy to help you out: SWCP is proud to provide DSL and our highspeed LightSpeed access to not only Albuquerque, but Santa Fe, Los Alamos and Las Cruces, too. And you won’t ever have to deal with the phone company!

If you’ve had service with us for a long time, you should call, too – higher speeds may now be available in your neighborhood, and the one-year contracts we now offer can lower your costs. It’s also a good idea to check with us before signing the papers if you’re considering moving or buying a house, too. Take the few minutes to really find out for sure if high speed connections are available there. Don’t rely on just what the neighbors or real estate agents say: conditions might be different next door.

The reasons why DSL coverage is so variable hereabouts are likewise varied. Although lower speeds are generally more available further away from the access point than the fastest connections are (see here for more), all have their limits. Your spread may simply be too far from the nearest DSLAM. Or it may be a result of the extremely patchy growth of the city. Past wiring solutions may make conditions on many phone lines unusable without extensive rewiring which the phone company is extremely reluctant to undertake. The situation is made even more complicated by the uneven rollout of superfast fiber optic connections to neighborhoods, too.

But, as it happens more and more often, all the available bandwidth for a neighborhood may get quickly sucked up by local businesses, who, after all, pay more for it. That’s why some affluent residential neighborhoods near malls or in the shadow of office buildings may find themselves effectively in a dead zone. The reason is that highspeed connections become aggregated, and once all that bandwidth for the area is taken, it’s taken.

Because of this, there have even been anecdotal reports that when highspeed fiber is rolled out to a neighborhood, those already using DSL at the lower end may find their speeds suffering, especially at busy times. The only option, then, may be to upgrade to a higher speed or even SWCP’s own highspeed LightSpeed service, if that’s possible.

Customers who are thinking of upgrading their Internet connections should please call us rather than CenturyLink. Our techs are only interested in the quality of your Net service and will not try to sell you a bunch of other stuff. It’s the least we can do.

Other solutions to the dead zone dilemma are few. For businesses, SWCP DIRECT, our dedicated point-to-point wireless connections, might be the answer if one of our many access towers around town is visible from the roof.

Residents who don’t want to wait for the phone company also have very limited options. Cable Internet access, despite advertised high speeds and higher costs, may not be that satisfactory as an alternative. Their fiber connections are aggregated too and could already be maxed out by surrounding enterprises in the area also. Unfortunately, with them, there’s no way of finding out before signing up.

But if you can get access through Comcast, you can still enjoy quality email service from SWCP for just pennies a day, or if you’re stuck with good old-fashioned dial-up, email and Internet access for not much more.

The simple fact is that demand for Internet access and higher speeds has always outstripped supply. The infrastructure is being upgraded all across the nation, but we live in a very big country. It will take awhile – and meanwhile the costs will be shared by all of us.

Nevertheless, SWCP will continue to do our best to bring you the best Internet service. Even if we can’t help you otherwise, as your neighbors, we’ll tell you the truth. Like we mentioned above,  it’s the least we can do.