Florida Crows Over Docsis 3.0

The South Florida arm of Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) says its territory will be a deployment ground for Docsis 3.0, but consumers there shouldn’t get too excited just yet. The earliest they might see a service based on the platform, which could produce shared speeds north of 100 Mbit/s, is 2009. (See Comcast Names Docsis 3.0 Market.)

That’s according to an announcement the operator issued Monday that highlights some “major” network upgrades it’s slating for a region that includes Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties. In addition to creating room for six new hi-def linear channels, the MSO noted that it’s also laying the groundwork for Docsis 3.0, citing a possible service rollout sometime next year.

Today, the MSO’s high-end tier in that region caps the downstream at 8 Mbit/s, but with PowerBoost, a system that taps into unused bandwidth, bursts can be as high as 20 Mbit/s.

The announcement, made by Comcast/South Florida, would appear to be the first from any U.S. MSO to name a specific market for rolling out Docsis 3.0. The Comcast corporate mothership has not disclosed specific Docsis 3.0 rollout locations, though.

Nor has Comcast issued details on expected speed tiers or pricing based on the new CableLabs specs, which call for a minimum configuration of four downstream and four upstream channels. What the MSO has said is that it will wire up to 20 percent of its footprint with the 3.0 architecture by the end of this year. (See Comcast Closes In on 100 Mbit/s.)

South Florida could be considered an odd choice for a Docsis 3.0 rollout, even if it won't occur until next year. It’s expected that Comcast initially will target 3.0 at Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS pockets.

One Touch Intelligence VP Matt Stump noted in an email that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is expected to launch U-verse in South Florida as early as this year. The high-end Internet tier for U-verse so far is 10 Mbit/s, a speed already matched or exceeded by existing Docsis 1.x- and 2.0-based cable systems.

While Docsis 3.0 is designed to deliver speeds greater than 100 Mbit/s, it’s possible that operators such as Comcast might not use the technology to raise the bar that high right away.

Canada's Vidéotron Telecom Ltd. , for instance, is using a pre-Docsis 3.0 platform to offer two new channel-bonded downstream tiers that offer speeds to 30 Mbit/s and 50 Mbit/s, respectively. (See Videotron Hits the Gas .)

Parks Associates , citing upcoming Docsis 3.0 deployments and investments in other FTTx platforms, predicts that nearly 33 million U.S. homes will be served by speeds of 10 Mbit/s or greater by 2012, up from 5.7 million at the end of 2007. (See Millions to Have 10 Mbit/s by '12.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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