Comcast Lighting Up 100 Mbit/s?
5:30 PM --
Today's scuttlebutt says Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is getting ready to double up and launch a 100-Mbit/s (downstream) Docsis 3.0 tier "any day now."
That gives the timing of the rumor plenty of wiggle room. As comedian Stephen Wright famously pointed out: "Anywhere is walking distance, if you've got the time."
These days, Comcast offers a 50-Mbit/s down / 5-Mbit/s up "Extreme" tier for $139.95 per month (for residential customers) in markets such as Minneapolis/St. Paul, Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and Atlanta.
When asked about the rumor that a 100-Mbit/s offering was imminent, the company didn't confirm or deny it. "We have nothing to announce at this time," a spokesman responded via email, pointing out that Docsis 3.0 has the capability to hit speeds in excess of 160 Mbit/s in the future.
The platform can hit such lofty bursts if the MSO bonds four 6 MHz channels -- the minimum capability required for Docsis 3.0 cable modem certification at CableLabs . With Comcast's analog reclamation project already hitting its stride in a few markets, maybe the MSO actually has a couple of channels to spare toward a faster wideband tier? (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan .)
Although 100 Mbit/s is considered the next "magic number," it still wouldn't give Comcast bragging rights as the fastest cable modem service in the U.S. Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) currently has that with its 101-Mbit/s service.
Perhaps Comcast will get cute and promise bursts of 102 Mbit/s, or maybe push the needle a bit higher by teaming a new wideband tier with PowerBoost, as Cox Communications Inc. is doing. [Ed note: Comcast invented PowerBoost, but licenses the technology to Cox.] (See Cox Gives Wideband a 'PowerBoost'.)
That might tweak Cablevision a bit, but it could certainly give Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) another reason to rant about the capabilities and limitations of cable's wideband platform. A blog battle in the making? Isn't that reason enough?
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News