Charter Talks Docsis Costs

Charter's estimate of Docsis 3.0 costs gives some insight into what Comcast might end up spending

Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor

September 11, 2008

2 Min Read
Charter Talks Docsis Costs

Cable's ballyhooed Docsis 3.0 technology aims to pump out speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s, but little has been said in terms of how much it will cost operators to wire up systems for the speedy platform. Now we have an answer: About $8 per customer.

That's according to Charter Communications Inc. president and CEO Neil Smit, who presented late Wednesday afternoon at the Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. conference in Marina Del Ray, Calif.

No one bothered asking Smit whether the $8 includes the wideband modems. However, a source who's seen the numbers tells Cable Digital News that it doesn't -- nor does it include the costs of provisioning services on those modems.

Charter's estimate, which the source says is actually in the range of $8 to $10 per home, covers the costs for Docsis 3.0 "network enablement," including the necessary cable modem termination system (CMTS) and routing gear. That cost range will also vary depending on the MSO's deployment starting point.

Smit said Charter plans to introduce Docsis 3.0 in a couple of markets by the end of the year. He didn't specify where, other than to say it will target markets where Charter already has a strong penetration of high-speed Internet subscribers and/or faces fierce competition.

"We don't mind being a fast-follower and letting the technology prove itself out," Smit said.

Today, Charter's high-end, single-channel cable modem tier tops out at 16 Mbit/s (downstream).

Multiplication rocks
Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is being more aggressive, wanting to get 20 percent of its network, meaning 10 million homes passed, ready for Docsis 3.0 this year. (See Comcast Enters the Wideband Era .) Some back-of-the-napkin math using Charter's estimate shows that's a potential $80 million to $100 million expense.

If Comcast is successful in rolling Docsis 3.0 to all 50 million homes it passes by mid-2010, the grand total will be $400 million to $500 million. Then again, Comcast is much bigger than Charter and probably gets better volume pricing, so those figures might be high.

We posed the cost question to Comcast. They're checking into it, so we'll provide an update when we get a response.

Separately, Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), which today offers a 30 Mbit/s tier, says it's already completed the network-level work for 3.0.

"We're capable of launching [Docsis 3.0] now," Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge said during a different conference session. He questioned whether most PCs are even capable of handling wideband speeds, "but if we wanted to offer it for bragging rights…we certainly could." (See Cablevision Begins Wideband Assault and Cablevision Plays WiFi Card .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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