Insight Doubles Down

Insight Communications Co. Inc. is launching a 20 Mbit/s cable modem service in parts of Kentucky and Indiana, but you’ll need to act fast if you want to upgrade to speedier offering.

The MSO plans to limit access to the new tier to 4 percent of the high-speed customer base in its Kentucky and Indiana cable properties, says Paul Meltzer, senior VP of product management. That 4 percent will be picked on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Until we determine otherwise and ensure we can deliver a superior experience, we will keep it at 4 percent,” he says.

And that portion will pay a bit more for that extra speed. The 20-meg tier sells for $20 more per month that Insight’s 10 Mbit/s offering, which goes for $30 per month when bundled with other cable services.

The new tier, dubbed Insight Broadband 20.0, caps the downstream bandwidth at 20 Mbit/s and the upstream at 1.5 Mbit/s. Insight’s 10.0 tier caps the upstream at 1 Mbit/s.

The faster tier arrives after Insight’s Midwest partnership with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) was dissolved. With that action, Insight’s subscriber base was roughly halved, giving it continued ownership of four systems in Kentucky (Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, and Covington); Columbus, Ohio; and Evansville, Ind. Insight finished 2007 with 721,688 total “customer relationships," as executives put it. (See Comcast Takes Control and Getting the Basics.)

Insight’s Columbus system is not getting the 20 Mbit/s tier because the operator delivers cable modem services there through a partnership with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Road Runner, which also serve portions of the city and compete head-to-head with WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) . Insight customers in Columbus do have access to Road Runner Turbo, a tier that advertises 15 Mbit/s downstream by 512 Kbit/s upstream.

So, is Insight yet considering channel bonding as a way to get even more speed, as Vidéotron Telecom Ltd. did earlier this week in Quebec? (See Videotron Hits the Gas .)

“We’re watching all of that extremely closely,” Meltzer said, but he wouldn’t spill the beans on any trial or deployment activity Insight might be considering for Docsis 3.0. “We are quite confident that cable will be able to stay well ahead of what our competitors are dreaming of,” he added, noting that he believes Insight offers the fastest speeds in its service footprint.

Among some of Insight’s competition, WOW offers “Ultra Plus Internet," with 6 Mbit/s downstream bandwidth and 1 Mbit/s upstream, for $63.99. Windstream Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: WIN), which grapples with Insight in Lexington, markets a 6 Mbit/s service.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Docsis 3.0 Strategies: From Product Development to Service Deployment, a conference that will take a comprehensive look at the cable industry's plans to roll out its next-generation architecture around the world. To be staged in Denver, March 19, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.

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