Charter Takes On U-verse
With the increasingly popular U-verse service from telco incumbent AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) in its sights, Charter is revving up wideband services in its home town of St. Louis. Its "Ultra60" service uses channel bonding techniques to create a logical pipe that can burst up to 60 Mbit/s (paired with an unbonded upstream of 5 Mbit/s), making it one of the fastest services offered by a North American cable operator today. (See Charter Debuts Docsis 3.0.)
In comparison, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s wideband service offers 50 Mbit/s downstream. Canada's Vidéotron Telecom Ltd. , meanwhile, offers two wideband tiers with maximum downstream speeds of 30 Mbit/s and 50 Mbit/s. (See Videotron Hits the Gas , Videotron Widens Wideband Footprint, and Comcast Wraps Up '08 Wideband Rollout .)
But, like Comcast's wideband offering, Charter's new broadband service isn't cheap. Ultra60 sells for $129 per month when bundled with other Charter services, and $139.99 when unbundled, according to a company spokeswoman.
In St. Louis, Charter competes with AT&T U-verse, which offers customers up to 18 Mbit/s downstream and 1.5 Mbit/s upstream.
Charter said it expects to launch its Docsis 3.0-based service in additional markets but has not set a specific timeline or identified any additional locations.
The deployment in St. Louis comes a little later than Charter had initially hoped: It had planned to launch the service before the end of 2008 and had even outlined the per-subscriber cost. (See Charter Sets Course for Docsis 3.0, All-Digital and Charter Talks Docsis Costs.)
Meanwhile, in the non-wideband world, Charter is in the process of beefing up the downstream of its present, single-channel Docsis tier, Internet Max, from 16 Mbit/s to 20 Mbit/s for no additional cost. The MSO, which ended the third quarter of 2008 with 2.85 million high-speed Internet customers, expects to offer the upgraded service across the board "soon." For customers who already subscribe to that level of service, the upgrade will be automatic.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News