Sponsored By

Cable One makes its case for DOCSIS 4.0 upgradesCable One makes its case for DOCSIS 4.0 upgrades

Cable One uses FTTP in all greenfield areas and market expansions, but the operator estimates that overbuilding existing HFC plant with FTTP is three to six times as expensive as going with a DOCSIS 4.0 upgrade.

Jeff Baumgartner

March 3, 2022

3 Min Read
Cable One makes its case for DOCSIS 4.0 upgrades

Although fiber upgrades and overlays have become increasingly popular with some cable operators in the US and Europe, Cable One believes that DOCSIS 4.0 is the best path to take for economics and performance.

Cable One uses fiber for greenfield deployments and market expansions, but internal financial studies found that overbuilding existing hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) plant with fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) presents a much different story.

"The net of it is that overbuilding ourselves with fiber is three to six times as expensive as simply going to a DOCSIS 4.0 upgrade. And it gives us the same relative performance," Ken Johnson, Cable One's SVP of technology services, said Thursday at the company's first-ever investor day. "The reason for that is the delta in the initial capital investment for the fiber overbuild is so high that ongoing operational savings can't offset it."

Cable One offers gigabit services on the vast majority of its DOCSIS 3.1 network today. Upgrading to DOCSIS 4.0 will enable the company to deliver multi-gigabit symmetrical broadband service along with enhanced security and low-latency capabilities.

Cable One has already sketched out some details on its plans for DOCSIS 4.0, announcing last November that it will pursue the Extended Spectrum DOCSIS (ESD) configuration rather than the Full Duplex DOCSIS (FDX) option that Comcast is pursuing. The ESD flavor of DOCSIS 4.0 envisions upgrading the HFC plant to 1.8GHz while keeping upstream and downstream traffic operating in a separate, dedicated spectrum.

Cable One is also pushing ahead with an IPTV transition that will enable the company to reclaim the spectrum for broadband services that today is being used to deliver QAM-based digital services. Johnson estimates that traditional QAM video takes up about half of the HFC plant's capacity.

According to a slide presented today on Cable One's roadmap, the company plans to start launching DOCSIS 4.0 in late 2022 and into 2023.

"We will continue to push fiber deeper in our network as we perform system upgrades. But we do not see the need to overbuild ourselves with fiber to be competitive with the features that fiber brings," Johnson said. "We have a clear roadmap outlining the detailed steps necessary to execute on this commitment of producing multi-gig, highly-reliable, symmetrical, low-latency services to the home."

FWA has its place

Johnson said that Cable One is not overly concerned about the emergence of competition from fixed wireless access (FWA) service providers. "Due to limitations in spectrum availably and technology, we do not feel that mobile or fixed wireless networks represent a significant threat to our business," he said. "They cannot scale up to meet the level of demand required by increasing consumption."

But that doesn't mean Cable One sees zero opportunity for FWA technology. It has invested in two fixed wireless ISPs – Wisper Internet and NextLink – to provide an economical way to serve less dense areas that are close to its wireline footprint.

"Fixed wireless seemed like a logical place to go with that," Steven Cochran, Cable One's CFO, said. "We don't think it's a great technology to compete head-to-head with a Gig service, but we think it's an unbelievably economical technology as we move outside [Cable One's footprint]."

Related posts:
Cable One plots path to DOCSIS 4.0 Cable One to drop 100-meg plan, migrate subs to pricier 200-meg tier Cable One and partners team up to form fiber-fueled JV Cable One invests in two fixed wireless ISPs — Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Baumgartner, who previously had served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013, was most recently Senior Content Producer-Technology at Multichannel News, heading up tech coverage for the publication's online and print platforms, and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting & Cable, a sister publication to Multichannel News. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

Subscribe and receive the latest news from the industry.
Join 62,000+ members. Yes it's completely free.

You May Also Like