Gigabit Cities

TWC Speeds Along With Speed Hikes

Pushing ahead with its network and service upgrades across the US, Time Warner Cable declared that it's now offering much higher data transmission speeds to more than 1.5 million broadband subscribers in three pilot markets.

Issuing a fresh blog post on the company's website earlier this week, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) said it's now delivering downstream speeds as high as 300 Mbit/s to broadband customers in Austin, Texas, Los Angeles and New York City, after winding up its network upgrades in Austin. Customers also received a boost in upstream speeds, with the top rates reaching 20 Mbit/s. (See TWC Joins Austin Speed Sweepstakes.)

In his post, Ryan Kelly, TWC's integrated communications manager, said the second-biggest US MSO has also gotten more than halfway through its network upgrades in the New York and LA markets. As a result, he noted, TWC remains "on track to reach our goal" of upgrading connections for more than 3 million customers in the three key markets by the end of the year.

The network upgrades and broadband speed hikes are part of the company's broader "TWC Maxx" initiative. Under this program, TWC is seeking to catch up with other major US MSOs by converting its cable systems to all-digital video transmission; vastly expanding its video-on-demand (VoD) offerings; introducing new, more powerful HD-DVR set-tops; boosting broadband speeds several-fold; and improving customer service, among other things, on a select, market-by-market basis.

Plans call for Time Warner Cable to extend TWC Maxx to seven more major markets -- namely Charlotte, Dallas, Hawaii, Kansas City, Raleigh, San Antonio and San Diego -- by the end of 2015. But of course, these plans may change if Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s proposed takeover of TWC goes through early next year, as most industry analysts still expect. (See TWC: Maxxing Out Too Late?.)

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In Austin, TWC faces particularly stiff broadband competition from a growing array of gigabit players. In this most gigabit of Gigabit Cities, TWC, the incumbent cable operator, is trying to stave off 1-Gig onslaughts from Google Fiber Inc. , AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and cable overbuilder Grande Communications , all of which are in various stages of market rollouts.

Whether TWC's new top speed of 300 Mbit/s -- which is six times faster than its previous top speed of 50 Mbit/s -- is high enough to do the trick is open to question. But the MSO, which is relying on DOCSIS 3.0 technology to deliver the speeds over its hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) plant, is clearly betting that 300 Mbit/s will be enough for now, at least until it (or its proposed new Comcast master) can deploy even more powerful DOCSIS 3.1 technology, when D3.1 equipment starts becoming available sometime next year.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
kq4ym 10/10/2014 | 3:49:01 PM
Re: When you put your mind to it... Google certainly is probably one of the main drivers for the competition. Whether the fastest gun will win is another question. Does speed drive profits or is it getting and keeping customers happy that might be the ultimate measure, and how important is the speed race to the gaininh highest ROI?
KBode 10/10/2014 | 9:43:22 AM
When you put your mind to it... That was announced in what, April -- and they've completed the city already. Amazing what a little competitive pressure can do -- even if Google Fiber isn't even built out there yet.
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