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TWC Joins 100-Meg Club

Alan Breznick
10/29/2013
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Playing catchup ball in the broadband space, Time Warner Cable has become the latest major US MSO to start rolling out 100Mbit/s service throughout its territories.

Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) announced Monday that it has begun offering 100Mbit/s downstream speeds to cable modem customers in the Los Angeles area, giving them a free upgrade from the old maximum speeds of 50 Mbit/s. The company also announced that it will introduce the same new Ultimate 100 Internet tier to broadband customers in New York City and Hawaii by the end of the year.

Plans then call for launching the new high-speed service, powered by DOCSIS 3.0 technology over HFC lines, in additional markets in 2014. TWC did not identify which markets will come next.

The 100Mbit/s rollouts come about 10 months after Time Warner Cable began offering the Ultimate 100 Internet tier in the Kansas City area, where it's going head-to-head with Google Fiber Inc. and its symmetrical 1Gbit/s service. But now the second-biggest US MSO is launching the service nationwide, rather than limiting it to one special market.

TWC thus joins such other large North American cable operators as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Cox Communications Inc. , Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Shaw Communications Inc. , Mediacom Communications Corp. , and Videotron Ltd. in offering 100Mbit/s or higher downstream speeds to cable modem customers. Comcast now leads the way with its new "Extreme 505" package, a fiber-delivered service that offers downstream speeds as high as 505 Mbit/s and upstream speeds as high as 100 Mbit/s in metro areas from Boston down to Richmond, Va., for $300 a month. (See Comcast Zips Past Verizon.)

The free upgrade to 100 Mbit/s means that the Ultimate 100 Internet tier will typically cost Time Warner Cable customers about $75 a month, although they're now being offered a special discounted price of $65 a month for a limited time. Subscribers will also receive up to 30 e-mail accounts, 10GB of e-mail storage space, free home WiFi service, free access to TWC's 23,000 WiFi hotspots, and the 200,000 Cable WiFi hotspots across the nation, and free Internet security and parental controls software.

TWC did not spell out whether Ultimate 100 customers will also receive higher upstream speeds. The old Ultimate 50 tier maxes out at 5 Mbit/s on the upstream.

In addition to announcing the new 100Mbit/s service, Time Warner Cable said it's replacing its Lite Internet tier with a cheaper but faster service. The new low-end product will offer downstream speeds as high as 2 Mbit/s and upstream speeds as high as 1 Mbit/s for about $15 a month, starting November 1.

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

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albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
10/31/2013 | 8:45:27 PM
Re: What were they waiting for?
Interesting, Craig. Thanks for that insightful note. I hope TWC is paying attention to what Cablevision is doing. Sounds like they struck a good balance there. BTW, do you know about our upcoming Future of Cable Business Services conference in NYC on Dec. 4. You'd probably get a lot of that and might even want to participate as a speaker.    
CraigPlunkett
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CraigPlunkett,
User Rank: Moderator
10/30/2013 | 7:31:34 PM
Re: What were they waiting for?
That's an interesting question Alan.  I am a Sales Engineer for Meru Networks and we have a demo network at a Coworking space in Manhattan called New Work City.  The device to person ratio is 2.5 to 1, and increasing.  We're peaking at about 110 simultaneous devices in the space, and they are maxing out the 5 Meg upstream that's available on the DOCSIS product.  50 Megs of download is fine for the usage characteristics of this population.

The space sits in the shadow of 32 Avenue of the Americas, the famous carrier hotel one block away.  For a small business like the coworking space, the cost to graduate to the 50/50 fiber offering from TWC is just too high.  Towerstream and others could provide similar connectivity, but the MRC is the same as TWC's fiber product.

The real question is how high should TWC business class raise its upstream speeds on the DOCSIS product without starting to cannibalize Metro E fiber sales. Cablevision recently introduced a 50/25 tier on its plant, which looks like a good fit for an SMB.  That seems like a good balance between their Optimum Business product and their Lightpath Metro E division.

 
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
10/30/2013 | 2:48:57 PM
Re: What were they waiting for?
Interesting point, Craig. So how high do you think TW Cable needs to boost the upstream speeds to compete with FiOS for SMBs? Do they need to go as high as 50 Mbit/s?
CraigPlunkett
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CraigPlunkett,
User Rank: Moderator
10/29/2013 | 9:29:59 PM
Re: What were they waiting for?
They can't wait, they're getting their butts kicked by VZ's FiOS in NYC.  Upstream speed boosts will be key to win back SMB customers.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 6:06:20 PM
Re: What were they waiting for?
Yep, TW Cable has been slow on the uptake here. Not sure why. Maybe they just didn't want to get caught yp in the speed marketing wars. Their plant certainly must have been ready. 
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
10/29/2013 | 5:27:56 PM
What were they waiting for?
In the grand tradition of telcos, maybe TWC thought they shouldn't do something for their customers unless a competitor does it first--maybe they were waiting for Google to go nationwide. Good to see they gave up on that notion.
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