Mediacom Takes 'Back Seat' on Docsis 3.0
"We are going to take a back seat on [Docsis 3.0] and see what other people in our industry... are doing," said Mediacom Chairman & CEO Rocco Commisso, responding to a question about the MSO's Docsis 3.0 aspirations during Tuesday's second-quarter earnings call. (See Mediacom Sees Slower Growth.)
"I don't think anyone has deployed that technology in the U.S. today. I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon," Commisso said, adding that Docsis 3.0 will be something Mediacom will be "looking at" in 2008 and 2009.
Today, Mediacom offers Docsis flagship data tiers that deliver shared downstream speeds of 8 Mbit/s and 10 Mbit/s. It also markets a 15-Mbit/s "Elite" cable modem service.
The CableLabs Docsis 3.0 specification calls for a minimum bonding of four downstream channels and four upstream channels, enough to produce shared speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s.
Some cable operators in Asia have started to use pre-Docsis 3.0 systems to stave off telcos that offer super-fast Internet access services fed by fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) and advanced DSL systems. But U.S.-based operators such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) have only discussed plans to begin 3.0 testing some time this year, with deployments to follow during 2008. (See Japanese MSO Moves 160 Mbit/s and Comcast Preps Docsis 3.0 Trials.)
MSOs presently do not have access to any Docsis 3.0-certified modems or 3.0-qualified cable modem termination systems (CMTSs). CableLabs, however, is expected to begin its first official tests on such equipment this October. (See CableLabs Accelerates Docsis 3.0 Testing .)
Mediacom, whose primary telco competitor is Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q), is not under the same competitive speed pressure as some of its cable colleagues, particularly those that are squaring off with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and its FiOS offering.
Commisso said his competitors are gaining customers by concentrating on lower-priced, lower-speed services. "I don't think they can compete with us [for]... customers that need and want much higher speeds," he added.
Mediacom also offers a 512-kbit/s tier, but uses it as a "customer save" tactic rather than as a heavily-promoted service. The lion's share of the company's Internet subs take Mediacom's 8-Mbit/s or 10-Mbit/s tier, according to executive vice president and chief financial officer Mark Stephan.
Mediacom, like other MSOs, did see its high-speed subscriber growth slow down in the second quarter. It added 13,000 data customers in the period, extending its total to 613,000. The MSO signed up 22,000 high-speed customers in the same period a year ago.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News