Comcast Eyeing 250-Meg Docsis 3.0?

11:00 AM -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is exploring a 250-Mbit/s Docsis 3.0 service, and the world may "begin hearing rumblings of it" before the end of the year, says DSL Reports, citing an unidentified MSO tipster.

Such speed bursts would require a new breed of wideband cable modem that can bond eight downstream channels. The good news, then, is that CableLabs has already blessed several modems with that capability, including models that sport silicon from either Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) or Texas Instruments Inc. (NYSE: TXN). A modem that uses a full eight-channel configuration (at 6MHz channel spacing) can produce bursts up to about 320 Mbit/s. (See TI's Wideband Breakthrough.)

An industry source familiar with wideband trends isn't aware of any launch plans for such a service, "but there has been plenty of lab activity." Comcast wasn't immediately available to comment on the report.

But going to eight channels would nearly double the channels Comcast is setting aside now for its 100-Mbit/s business-class Docsis 3.0 tier in Minneapolis/St. Paul. (See Comcast Gets Bizzy With 100-Meg Tier .)

Then there's the question as to what kind of customer would even require such speeds. Some mid-sized businesses might have need for it.

But there's also speculation that Comcast (and other MSOs) may be looking at an eight-channel configuration to deliver an IPTV simulcast using chipsets that can set aside a portion of that bandwidth for IP video and the rest for more traditional high-speed Internet access. (See TI Flexes Docsis 3.0 Muscle and Comcast Forges 'Excalibur' for IPTV.)

Beyond all that, Comcast will also need to carve out the extra bandwidth to support a 250-Mbit/s service. It may be able to obtain that necessary head room from its big analog reclamation project, which is slated for completion by year's end. (See Comcast to Wrap Wideband, All-Digital Rollout This Year and Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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