Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has become the first U.S. MSO to launch a Docsis 3.0 Internet service that produces downstream speed bursts of more than 100 Mbit/s -- 101 Mbit/s, in fact.

In North America, that gives the New York-based MSO some cable industry bragging rights, just outpacing a 100-Mbit/s Docsis 3.0 tier that Canada's Shaw Communications Inc. launched earlier this year. But for those who are keeping score, both Shaw and Cablevision trail Jupiter Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (J:COM) 's 160-Mbit/s wideband service in Japan. (See Shaw Bows 100 Mbit/s 'Nitro' Tier, Shaw Breaks 100-Meg Barrier, J:COM Does Docsis 3.0 All Over, and Wideband: Priced to Move .)

Cablevision, which has had success fending off Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS to this point, is entering the Docsis 3.0 era with a tier called Optimum Online Ultra, offering bursts of 101 Mbit/s downstream and 15 Mbit/s upstream for $99.95 per month. That's well below the $139.95 Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) charges for its 50 Mbit/s "Extreme" tier. (See Cablevision Launches 'Ultra' Docsis 3.0 Service and 40%... & Counting.) Cablevision's highest-end, single-channel Docsis tier, Optimum Online Boost, pumps out speeds up to 30 Mbit/s downstream and 5 Mbit/s upstream.

Cablevision, which passes 5 million homes in the New York metro area, expects to offer the new wideband tier in all service areas by May 11. The MSO confirmed that it's getting the service off the ground with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s Docsis 3.0-certified wideband modems (the DPC3000) and the vendor's cable modem termination systems (CMTSs). Cablevision also isn't saddling the new Docsis 3.0 tier (and causing a potential uproar) with metered billing or capped consumption policies. (See TWC Mothballs New Metering Trials and Comcast Installs 250 GB Ceiling .)

Cablevision's new wideband tier will raise the bar, at least in the downstream category, with Verizon FiOS, a service that today tops out at 50 Mbit/s down and 20 Mbit/s up, and passes about 1.5 million homes in the Cablevision footprint. FiOS is also set to match up with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) in New York City, but TWC has yet to do more than hint at launching wideband services there. Time Warner Cable, however, has revealed that its initial wideband tier will set speeds at 50 Mbit/s down and 5 Mbit/s up for $99 per month. (See TWC in '09: Job Cuts, WiMax & Wideband and TWC Dons Larger Consumption Caps.)

Cablevision's sub-$100 price on the new wideband tier might tempt some consumers, but MSO COO Tom Rutledge said in February that the company expects early adopters to be small business customers. Likewise, Cablevision doesn't anticipate Docsis 3.0 to be a "transformative factor in our business," at least in the early going. (See Cablevision Says to Watch for Wideband.)

WiFi boost
Cablevision also announced that it's doubling the downstream speed of the MSO's Optimum WiFi service to 3 Mbit/s, while keeping the upstream at 1.5 Mbit/s. Cablevision offers WiFi access for free to its cable modem subs, and reported recently that customers had accessed the wireless network more than 1 million times. The MSO has turned up WiFi in its Long Island, Connecticut, and Westchester service areas, as well as service pockets in New Jersey.

Cablevision has already revealed that it's spending $300 million, or about $70 per home passed, on its deployment of WiFi and Docsis 3.0. (See Cablevision Mobilizes Content Play, Cablevision Hits 1M WiFi Hits, and Cablevision Plays WiFi Card .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 4:05:57 PM
re: Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service Yes, for about a week. ;-)

Seriously, compared to other MSOs, ya gotta love Cablevision's chutzpah with D3 and WiFi.
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:05:57 PM
re: Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service

Would a just sub-$100 price really temp you to give a 100 Mbit/s+ D3 tier a try based on your existing or anticipated bandwidth needs? If not, what's the magic price point that would make you make the jump to wideband over what speeds and prices you pay now?  Jeff



Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:05:51 PM
re: Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service

Verizon has a dissenting opinion on its policy blog site.  Condensed version: "Shared bandwidth sucks, so there."

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:05:50 PM
re: Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service

It's not surprising that VZ picked now to reheat the the Docsis-is-shared argument, particularly when the competition is trying to one up with a 101 Mbit/s tier that is in fact best effort...so customers shoudn't expect to get anywhere near that on a persistent basis. I'll be curious to see what kind of bursts those customers get come the end of next month.

But even if VZ argues that this is merely a "parlor trick" and about marketing-driven bragging rights, I still wonder if Cablevision's decision to push the speed needle a bit will apply enough pressure on them to launch (not merely test) a 100+Mbit/s tier themselves, even if they say there isn't a massive outcry for speeds like that.

But VZ isn't really alone in noting some of the bursty shortcomings of Docsis. Even one of cable's own has wondered openly about the long-term potential for the platform, particularly in the upstream.

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