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Suddenlink Unleashes 107-Meg Wideband Tier

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
3/30/2010
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The confirmation comes a day later than expected, but Suddenlink Communications has formally launched a 107-Mbit/s (downstream) Docsis 3.0 tier in three suburban-Austin, Texas, communities where the MSO locks horns with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse.

Word leaked out late last week that the MSO might launch the service in Georgetown, Pflugerville, and Leander on Monday (March 29), but the company did not make it official until Tuesday morning. (See Suddenlink: US Cable's New Speed King? )

"Based on our research, we believe this residential download speed to be the fastest available in the U.S. today," said Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent, in a statement.

That's what our research tells us, too, when it comes to domestic Docsis 3.0 services. Suddenlink's new tier, dubbed High Speed Internet Max 107.0, is the fastest cable wideband tier in the US, in terms of downstream speeds, slightly outpacing Mediacom Communications Corp. 's 105-Mbit/s service. (See Mediacom's Other 105-Meg Market .)

Suddenlink's MAX 107.0 tier is coupled with an upstream that maxes out at 5 Mbit/s.

Update: A Suddenlink spokesman says MAX 107.0 costs $107 per month when bundled with other MSO services, and $120 per month when purchased as a standalone service. Suddenlink plans to introduce the 107-Mbit/s service in other still-undisclosed markets later this year.

The new tier ties into "Project Imagine," a bandwidth management and advanced services initiative that calls for the MSO to spend about $350 million in capex through 2012, which is "above and beyond" the operator's traditional capital spending levels. In addition to Docsis 3.0, that project will fund the introduction of video-on-demand and capacity for up to 200 high-definition television channels in almost all of Suddenlink's cable properties.

The first phase of that project got underway late last year. On a replay of the company's fourth-quarter call (the company is private but holds public debt) last week, Suddenlink COO Tom McMillin said the operator had Docsis 3.0 deployed to 60 percent of its customer base by the end of 2009. The operator has already used wideband to introduce downstream speeds of 20 Mbit/s and 50 Mbit/s. (See Suddenlink Posts Q4 and Suddenlink Widens Wideband Rollout.)

Suddenlink, the eighth-largest incumbent cable operator, has about 1.24 million subs. It ended 2009 with about 749,000 high-speed Internet customers.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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