Light Reading

Comcast 'Completes' Docsis 3.0 Rollout

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has wrapped up its initial deployment of Docsis 3.0, the platform cable operators are tapping into to deliver speed bursts of 100Mbit/s or more while also forming the foundation of an IP video platform.

The rollout is "completed," Comcast CFO and Vice Chairman Michael Angelakis told the audience at Citigroup investor's conference on Thursday in San Francisco. It's unclear if he meant that 100 percent of the MSO's footprint is now truly D3-ready, or if there are still some small pockets that haven't made the leap to wideband.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) estimated last fall that U.S. cable operators would have D3 deployed to 77 percent of the nation's households by the end of 2011. Comcast alone passes 52.38 million homes and businesses. (See The State of Docsis 3.0.)

Comcast has rolled out D3 at a steady pace ever since it debuted wideband services in April 2008 in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn., and its highest-end cable modem speed tiers currently tops out at 105Mbit/s downstream. Comcast has not revealed how many of its 17.81 million high-speed Internet customers subscribe to a D3 tier. Comcast also sells wideband data services to business customers. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era .)

While big speeds have grabbed most of the Docsis 3.0 headlines in recent years as MSOs grapple with fiber-to-the-home competition, the technology is also expected to help underpin cable's move to IP video. CableLabs , for example, has been working on ways to optimize D3 for video, including improvements in the way that IP multicast works in the wideband environment so one video stream can be received by multiple destinations -- akin to the way switched digital video (SDV) handles linear video streams in the QAM video world today. (See Docsis 3.0 Tackles Linear IP Video.)

It looks like most of Comcast's markets should have access to spectrum that can be applied toward Docsis 3.0 channel-bonding or toward capacity for more HDTV channels and video-on-demand streams. Angelakis said the deployment of Project Cavalry, Comcast's big analog reclamation initiative, is "pretty much complete." (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

Comcast has already deployed millions of standard-definition Digital Terminal Adapter (DTA) devices to spur that project along, and evidence is mounting that Comcast is getting close to deploying a new class of DTA that can support hi-def video signals. (See Comcast HD-DTAs Reach the FCC.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:46:31 PM
re: Comcast 'Completes' Docsis 3.0 Rollout

I'm sure Comcast will never report it, but I wonder how many subs have signed on for the 105 Mbps speed tier. The back-room talk I've heard suggests the network would not hold up if there was any real adoption taking place.

Of course, few consumers would know what to do with 105 Mbps right now, even if they had the cash to pay for it.

User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:46:28 PM
re: Comcast 'Completes' Docsis 3.0 Rollout

You're right about J:Com, and I had forgotten that example. I'd be curious to know what adoption is like there, and how J:Com customers are using their mega speeds. Like the adoption of early mobile behaviors in Korea, the trends that show up in Japan are likely to trickle over to the US.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:46:21 PM
re: Comcast 'Completes' Docsis 3.0 Rollout

Usage is a moving target. A few years ago it was P2P and news groups. That's what makes Sandvine reports fun to read. As for supplying what consumers need or can use, back when Liberty still owned J:Com, Balan Nair told me that moving from 30 to 160 Mbps didn't result in a 5x rise in consumption/use among the high-end users. That was an interesting finding, though don't know what the story is now. And then some countries (like Korea) simply remain outliers on the statistical scatter plot. 

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