Light Reading

Comcast Rolls Wideband in the Pacific Northwest

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is set to introduce speedier Internet services based on Docsis 3.0 technology next month to systems serving a total of 1.8 million basic video subs in Washington and Oregon.

In Washington, where Comcast serves about 1.2 million video subs, the MSO will wire up its systems for Docsis 3.0 in areas such as Seattle, Bellingham, Bremerton, and Spokane. The deployments in Oregon and the southwestern portion of Washington include Longview and Eugene. (See Comcast Rolls Wideband in OR and Comcast Rolls Wideband in WA.)

In those areas, Comcast will cross swords primarily with Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), with spottier run-ins with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) (in Seattle, for example).

Following an initial launch in Minnesota's Twin Cities, Comcast unleashed Docsis 3.0 in the MSO's New England region (including Boston metro and Southern New Hampshire), and parts of New Jersey and Philadelphia. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era and Comcast Takes 'Wideband' Wider .)

Comcast has committed to wire about 20 percent of its markets, or roughly 10 "major" markets serving a total of 10 million homes and businesses within its footprint by year's end. The MSO has previously said it expects to have all of its systems Docsis 3.0-ready by mid-2010.

Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said "it's still our goal" to have one fifth of the MSO's network upgraded to Docsis 3.0 by the end of 2008. "We'll have more announcements in the next several weeks that will get us there."

Bonded upstreams and 100 Mbit/s? Not yet
The base Docsis 3.0 specs call for the bonding of a minimum of four downstream channels and four upstream channels -- more than enough to produce shared Internet speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s. Although Docsis 3.0 modems are required to comply with the full suite of specifications, only one cable modem termination system (CMTS), a product from Casa Systems Inc. , has thus far received qualification from CableLabs for the bonded upstream component. (See Cisco, Arris & Casa Make the CableLabs Grade, SerComm Gets Certified, and Docsis 3.0 Gear Tracker IV .)

For now, Comcast is standardizing initial Docsis 3.0 deployments based on tiers that bond only downstream channels and don't yet breach the 100 Mbit/s mark, though fellow U.S. operator Insight Communications Co. Inc. is testing out such lofty speeds in Louisville, Ken.

But considering that wideband customers are also subject to Comcast's monthly 250 Gigabyte ceiling to keep "excessive users" in check, that might be a good thing for now. (See Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)

For its initial wideband service deployments, Comcast is leading off with an "Extreme 50" tier that offers bursts of up to 50 Mbit/s downstream and 10 Mbit/s upstream for $139.95 per month. The "Ultra" tier sells for $62.95 per month, offering 22 Mbit/s down by 5 Mbit/s upstream.

Comcast is coupling that with a business-class Wideband package (50 Mbit/s down by 10 Mbit/s up) for $189.95 that bundles in firewall services, static IP addresses, 24/7 customer support, and a suite of software from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT). (See Comcast, Microsoft Get Down to (Small) Business .)

The MSO is also juicing the burst speeds of its single-channel modem tiers where it has introduced Docsis 3.0. The existing 6 Mbit/s by 1 Mbit/s "Performance" tier jumps to 12/2; and the downstream element of the 8 Mbit/s "Performance Plus" tier gets moved up to 16 Mbit/s. With Powerboost enabled, the 12/2 tier can hit speeds of 15/3, and the 16/2 tier can get a temporary push to 20/4.

Sorry, wideband users, no Powerboost for you. But we suppose you probably won't really need it.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:26:47 PM
re: Comcast Rolls Wideband in the Pacific Northwest
Now that Comcast has D3 rolled in multiple markets, but not in Denver yet (too bad for me), was curious to know if anyone out there has signed up for it and can share what the experience has been like so far...installation, performance, etc. Has it been worth the premium?

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:26:30 PM
re: Comcast Rolls Wideband in the Pacific Northwest
Not here yet in Florida.........but I am
hearing great things about it from NE. Can not wait for it to get here.
Heard 1st quarter of 2009.
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