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Docsis 3.0: It's More Than Speed

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

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

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:50 PM
re: Docsis 3.0: It's More Than Speed

where are your thoughts on being more than speed. I happen to agree with you and it is an important point to discuss/explain.

thank you,


Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:30:50 PM
re: Docsis 3.0: It's More Than Speed

I think centering on the speeds D3 enables made sense in the early going because it resonated with that early adopter set and gave the industry something to lean on or point to when it was being called out against advanced DSL and FTTH services that provide big speeds.

 But it's time to move on to the next phase... drive real adoption of the technology, and stop treating it like a circus sideshow that costs a pretty penny.  For one, the price for D3 service needs to come down (particularly in the US), and operators need to concentrate on the other things that Docsis 3.0 can bring to the table... and that's a challenge, I think.  Other than speed, the industry needs to relay what else D3 offers them that they can't get with what they get today from cable broadband that would cause them to upgrade. 

The use of the gateway to help spread the gospel of D3 could make some sense here since home networking is much more commonplace and consumers are using those networks to connect their TVs, ipads, smartphones, etc., to feed in OTT video, services like Pandora.

But price cuts and gateway integration are just two examples. What other ways can cable expand the D3 pie? JB

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