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J:COM Does Docsis 3.0 All Over

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

PHILADELPHIA -- SCTE Cable-Tec Expo -- If anyone's looking for more proof that operators in Asia are well ahead of their peers in North America when it comes to launching big time broadband services, look no further than Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (J:COM) , Japan's largest cable operator.

J:COM, which has already been aggressively deploying speedy "Wideband" services, will have Docsis 3.0 deployed in all of its systems by the end of July, according to Mitsuo Yoshida, deputy general manager for J:COM's engineering division.

Yoshida, speaking here Thursday on a Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT)-sponsored panel discussion, said the technology was deployed in about 15 of its 42 systems as of March 2008. J:COM is using the platform to power a high-end "NET Ultra" service that caps shared downstream speeds at 160 Mbit/s via the bonding of four 6MHz channels. The non-bonded upstream bandwidth for the product is capped at 10 Mbit/s.

Yoshida said his company has been very keen to get Docsis 3.0 equipment rolled out, citing heavy competition from telcos that are using either fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) or advanced VDSL to deliver speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s.

And J:COM, which serves about 2.82 million subs and operates systems that pass 10 million homes, has priced Ultra competitively. At 6,000 yen (US$60) per month, Ultra costs just $5 more than J:COM's single-channel, 30 Mbit/s (downstream) offering. By comparison, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is selling a 50 Mbit/s residential Wideband service in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.) for $145.99 per month. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era and Controlling Doc$is 3.0 .)

J:COM's Docsis 3.0 deployment is still in the early stages, but 25 percent of all new Internet subscribers signed up for the 160 Mbit/s service in the first quarter of 2008. J:COM ended the first quarter with about 27,000 Ultra customers, and has about 30,000 today, most of them coming on board since mid-April. "That figure is bigger than we expected," Yoshida said.

Although J:COM started some pre-Docsis 3.0 work last year with Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS), the operator has since centered its Docsis 3.0 cable modem termination system (CMTS) deployment strategy on the Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) BSR 64000 model. J:COM is also deploying 3.0-certified modems from Motorola, but just signed up Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) as a second source for Wideband modems. (See J:COM Bonds With Motorola and J:COM Picks Cisco Modems .) All three of those vendors have won Docsis 3.0 modem certifications from CableLabs , and received "Bronze" qualification for their respective CMTSs. (See Docsis 3.0 Gear Tracker II.)

J:COM is "such a major focus for us and the industry, in general," said Kevin Keefe, VP of global marketing and product management for Motorola's Access Networks Solution unit. He said video streaming and downloading will drive Docsis 3.0 and channel bonding, citing research from ABI Research that consumers will view 70 billion videos via the Internet annually by 2012.

That trend was not lost on Midcontinent Communications senior RF engineer David Haigh, who presented earlier in the day on the topic of Docsis 3.0 plant preparation. "We can't wait for HD YouTube. That'll be a good one," he joked.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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