& cplSiteName &

Suddenlink Joins Gigabit Club

Alan Breznick
8/12/2014
50%
50%

Suddenlink Communications has become the latest US broadband provider to come down with gigabit fever.

Suddenlink Communications , the seventh-largest US cable operator, revealed plans late last week to upgrade nearly all its cable systems for 1Gbit/s service over the next three years. Speaking on the company's second-quarter earnings call Friday, Suddenlink executives said they will spend an extra $230 million in capital expenditures, starting with $35 million in the second half of this year, to boost the capabilities of their systems and clear more bandwidth.

Specifically, the "Operation GigaSpeed" initiative calls for Suddenlink to upgrade its cable modem termination systems (CMTSs), replace its DOCSIS 2.0 cable modems with 3.0 modems and higher, and reclaim more analog video bandwidth by converting the rest of its cable systems to all-digital video delivery. With these measures, MSO officials aim to offer top download speeds of 1 Gbit/s to nearly 90% of their broadband customers by 2017, and maximum speeds of 200 Mbit/s to another 8% of their subscribers.

Suddenlink chairman and CEO Jerry Kent said he expects nearly half of the planned 1Gbit/s launches to be completed by the end of next year. Most of the remainder are expected to be completed in 2016.

In addition, Suddenlink is planning to boost its upstream speeds, although officials didn't say how much. Just a couple of months ago, the MSO began rolling out new high-speed tiers in two Texas markets featuring maximum download speeds of 300 Mbit/s and maximum upload speeds of 15 Mbit/s for $65 a month. (See Two US MSOs Boost Broadband Speeds.)

Sticking to their usual practice, Suddenlink executives didn't disclose exactly where and when they will launch gigabit service. But chances are, the initial launches will take place in the same Texas markets outside Austin where the MSO has hiked speeds first before.


For more of Light Reading's coverage of gigabit launches by broadband providers, visit our broadband FTTx content channel.


On the earnings call, Kent admitted to analysts that the company is taking this latest step partly as a defensive move to stave off further forays by telco and other broadband rivals. While less than 10% of Suddenlink's homes passed are overlapped by telco wireline "overbuilds," he said, both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Google Fiber Inc. are now starting to roll out their 1Gbit/s services in or near the MSO's prime Texas markets.

But mainly, Kent said, Suddenlink is seeking to go on the offensive so that it can pick up more broadband customers. "It's fair to say we might be a bit ahead of the curve," he said. "I think our competition will not be able to be very competitive against us unless they make significant investments."

Suddenlink has carried out this type of preemptive broadband speed hike before. More than four years ago, the company started offering maximum download speeds of 107 Mbit/s, at a time when most cable operators and telcos hadn't exceeded 50 Mbit/s yet.

The Operation GigaSpeed launch comes as Suddenlink and other US cable operators are clearly shifting their emphasis away from video to broadband. Just last week, for instance, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) CEO James Dolan indicated that new broadband services offered the most promise for his company. (See Cablevision Looks to Data as Great Savior.)

Kent sounded a similar theme on the earnings call. Calling it "a mature business with somewhat declining margins," he said, "Video is not going to be our main driver going forward." Instead, he said, the company will focus more on broadband, WiFi, telephony and commercial services.

Suddenlink's second-quarter performance reflected that shift. The MSO picked up 200 residential high-speed data subscribers in the typically weak spring quarter -- an improvement over its loss of 8,700 data customers a year ago. Over the past 12 months, the company has netted 77,700 data customers, boosting its broadband customer base to 1.1 million.

In contrast, Suddenlink lost 18,700 basic video subscribers during the second quarter, although that still represented an improvement over the 23,100 it lost a year earlier. Over the past 12 months, the MSO has shed 20,200 video customers, dropping its total below 1.2 million.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
KBode
50%
50%
KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/13/2014 | 9:09:50 AM
90%?
"MSO officials aim to offer top download speeds of 1 Gbit/s to nearly 90% of their broadband customers by 2017..."

I find this highly unlikely, even if this mark is three years away. That's a promise definitely worth remembering. I'd also wonder what kind of upstream speeds we'll be talking about?
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading is spending much of this year digging into the details of how automation technology will impact the comms market, but let's take a moment to also look at how automation is set to overturn the current world order by the middle of the century.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
November 1, 2017, The Royal Garden Hotel
November 1, 2017, The Montcalm Marble Arch
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue, London, UK
November 2, 2017, 8 Northumberland Avenue – London
November 10, 2017, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
November 16, 2017, ExCel Centre, London
November 30, 2017, The Westin Times Square
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Muni Policies Stymie Edge Computing
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/17/2017
'Brutal' Automation & the Looming Workforce Cull
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/18/2017
Is US Lurching Back to Monopoly Status?
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Pai's FCC Raises Alarms at Competitive Carriers
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 10/16/2017
Worried About Bandwidth for 4K? Here Comes 8K!
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 10/17/2017
Animals with Phones
Selfie Game Strong Click Here
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
The Mobile Broadband Road Ahead
By Kevin Taylor, for Huawei
All Partner Perspectives