Liberty Exec Details D3's 'Sweet' Economics

Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) is spending on average about $20 per home passed for its rapid network buildout of Docsis 3.0, the platform the operator is using to deliver downstream speeds of 100 Mbit/s or more in portions of Europe.

"The economics are quite sweet for Docsis 3.0," says Timothy Burke, Liberty Global's VP of strategic technology, who highlighted those costs at the recent Cable Next-Gen Broadband Strategies 2010 event in Denver.

The infrastructure piece Burke cited includes cable modem termination system (CMTS) upgrades, adding Internet and transport, and the work required to free up the channels themselves for bonding. [Ed. note: Liberty uses the EuroDocsis configuration, which uses 8MHz-wide channels; North American Docsis uses 6MHz-wide channels.]

Those costs don't include the Docsis 3.0 modems themselves. But even those numbers are becoming increasingly attractive, dropping 30 percent in the last year. Burke estimates that a Docsis 3.0 modem can be had for about $50, with embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs, which bake in support for MSO-managed VoIP services) running about $70 per unit. Here's some video of Burke's economic rundown (Cable Europe Labs chief technology officer Peter Percosan is the gent sitting next to him.).

Those economics are enabling Liberty Global to get Docsis 3.0 deployed quickly and rev up services that outstrip ADSL speeds and give the operator something to counter growing fiber-to-the-home deployments.

Burke said Liberty expects to have Docsis 3.0 deployed to 80 to 90 percent of all UPC Broadband divisions in Western, Central, and Eastern Europe by the end of 2010. Liberty recently purchased Germany's second-largest cable operator, Unitymedia GmbH , which began offering 120-Mbit/s wideband services last fall. (See Liberty Splashes $5.2B on German Operator and Unitymedia Unveils 120M Broadband.)

Burke said Liberty also hopes to launch some wideband trials at VTR in Chile (Liberty owns 80 percent of VTR) and at Telenet in Belgium (Liberty owns roughly 50 percent of that operator) later this year. Here's a bit more video on Liberty's Docsis 3.0 rollout:

But Liberty's not the only MSO getting aggressive with wideband in Europe. Percosan, in the videos below, offers more detail on the Docsis 3.0 situation in Germany and the market drivers that are leading Cable Europe Labs members to ratchet up their own wideband deployments.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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