Docsis 3.0: It's More Than Speed
The 100-Mbit/s burst speeds enabled by Docsis 3.0 tend to grab the headlines as MSOs tap the platform to offer high-speed services, but it's the myriad other components of the CableLabs spec that will help D3 gain traction beyond the early adopter set, notes the latest Cable Industry Insider report from Heavy Reading. (See Broadband Speed War: Cable's Docsis 3.0 Volley.)
There's a "pesky question of how much speed consumers really need or are willing to pay for," explains the report, – "Broadband Speed War: Cable Arms Itself with Docsis 3.0."
Although operators are starting to market D3 services more aggressively after completing the network-side upgrades, consumer uptake has so far been slow. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), one of the few operators to even disclose any wideband subscriber numbers, said only 1,000 customers signed up for its 50-Mbit/s Docsis 3.0 service in the first quarter of 2010. (See Slow Start for TWC's Fastest Broadband.)
Slow uptake for D3 is partly price-related (many service tiers cost $100 per month or more, making it a stronger small-business play for now). But the report suggests that operators are looking for D3 and its other inherent capabilities -- such as multicast quality of service (QoS), which is useful for IP-based video applications -- to pipe in new services to help justify higher broadband bills and increase consumer adoption of cable's new high-capacity platform.
D3 is also expected to catalyze a new class of managed broadband gateways that bake in home networking elements and could give operators yet another way to push wideband adoption and raise the category's revenue stream. (See Cable Winks, Giggles at TR-069 .)
The idea of using D3 to deliver IP video services is gaining traction but, the report says, operators are still debating how it should be delivered, weighing the operational and technical benefits of delivering those services directly through the cable modem termination system (CMTS) against bypassing the CMTS, and delivering them through edge QAMs. (See How Will Cable Deliver IPTV?.)
"About the only thing that engineers seem to agree upon is that no one solution will work for all cable operators," the report stresses.
But MSOs should have a scaled architecture to build on once those decisions are made. Heavy Reading estimates that D3 will pass 75 million cable homes in North American by 2010, and 90 million homes by 2012.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable