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DOCSIS

Bresnan's 'Insurance Policy'

3:20 PM -- DENVER -- Cable Next-Gen Broadband Strategies -- Bresnan Communications LLC may not be faced with the same level of competitive pressure from telcos that some of its larger MSO brethren are, but that's not stopping the operator from preparing its network for Docsis 3.0 and the ability to offer speeds of 100 Mbit/s or greater.

Bresnan is installing Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s flagship cable modem termination system (CMTS), the uBR10012, in some of its larger markets and putting them in with Docsis 3.0 capabilities already on board, said Bresnan VP of strategic engineering Pragash Pillai, a panelist here Tuesday at the second annual Cable Next-Gen Broadband Strategies Light Reading Live event.

But Bresnan, whose fastest single-channel Docsis tier offers 15 Mbit/s downstream, has no near-term plans to deploy wideband services.

"Bandwidth [demand] will continue to rise, and we need to be prepared for it," Pillai said, noting that 40 percent of the traffic running on Bresnan's high-speed network is IP video. Getting CMTSs ready for Docsis 3.0 "is an insurance policy right now," he said.

Bresnan, which has about 300,000 subs and competes with Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) in pockets of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Utah, could look to Docsis 3.0 to support its business service offerings even if residential subs don't require wideband speeds right away.

One adoption hurdle remains the wideband modem itself, which, Pillai said, costs about twice as much as Docsis 2.0 modems. "That has to come down. A 100 percent increase is a huge bullet to bite," Pillai says.

Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), some may recall, has suggested that a sub-$50 Docsis 3.0 modem is on the horizon as chipsets integrate more elements and the device's bill of materials continues to shrink. (See Broadcom: Sub-$50 Docsis 3.0 Modem in Sight .)

Fellow panelist Greg Fisher, the CTO of SMC Networks Inc. , said it's a bit unfair to compare volumes and pricing between for Docsis 3.0 modems and previous generations, because wideband modem volumes are still ramping up. He also warned that Broadcom's entry to the Docsis 3.0 fold won't necessarily provide the "magic bullet" for reduced unit prices, either.

"It's about time and deployments," said Fisher, noting that Docsis 3.0 modem pricing did in fact dip a bit even before any MSOs really bought in.

SMC, by the way, uses modem silicon from Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN), including a new chipset that bonds up to eight downstream channels and four downstream channels. (See SMC Shows 320-Meg Cable Modem and TI Flexes Docsis 3.0 Muscle .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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