RCN Claims to Chase Competitors in Wideband
RCN, considered a cable "overbuilder," competes with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) in Boston, and with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) in portions of New York City.
Comcast has already launched wideband services in the Boston area and expects to have Docsis 3.0 wired up across the board by the end of 2010. Time Warner Cable, which is preparing to lock horns with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s FiOS, has already identified NYC as a Docsis 3.0 market. Cablevision is getting its networks ready for wideband , with a service launch expected shortly. (See TWC in '09: Job Cuts, WiMax & Wideband , Comcast Widens Wideband Footprint , Comcast Wraps Up '08 Wideband Rollout , and Cablevision Wires Up for Wideband .)
RCN is keeping details of its New York and Boston launch quiet. The company says it will target wideband to residential and business customers, said it will offer download speeds of 50 Mbit/s "and faster," but there's no telling if it will come close to the 100 Mbit/s mark as Shaw Communications Inc. just did in Saskatoon. (See Shaw Breaks 100-Meg Barrier.)
RCN officials did not immediately respond to a request for further comment, but company president and CEO Peter Aquino said in a statement that the MSO is "taking the time now to test the platform to ensure that when we fully deploy this upgrade it is done in the most efficient and effective manner for our customers."
Last summer, he said RCN would "probably" launch Docsis 3.0 by the end of 2009, so he's left himself plenty of wiggle room. (See RCN Unveils Wideband Plans.) In addition to Boston and NYC, RCN also serves parts of Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Lehigh Valley, Pa. RCN ended the third quarter with roughly 428,000 residential and small-medium business customers.
In the U.S., Comcast's wideband tier limits the downstream to 50 Mbit/s, though it's already considering faster packages and is eager to start bonding upstream channels as well. Charter Communications Inc. , meanwhile, has unleashed a 60 Mbit/s Docsis 3.0 product in St. Louis that runs $129 per month when bundled with another cable service. (See Charter Takes On U-verse .)
Today, RCN's high-end single-channel cable modem tier offers 20 Mbit/s downstream and 2 Mbit/s upstream for $68 per month. A check of the company's acceptable use policy indicates that RCN does not presently use consumption caps or metered Internet billing techniques that are becoming popular with other MSOs. (See Charter Tries On Consumption Caps , TWC Tees Up More Meters , and Comcast Draws the Line at 250GB.)
RCN, which just finished off an all-digital initiative called "Project Analog Crush," is using its reclaimed analog spectrum to beef up its hi-def menu and to free up channels for Docsis 3.0. (See RCN Almost Done 'Crushing' Analog .)
Roughly 65 million U.S. homes, about half the country, will have access to 50 Mbit/s services based on Docsis 3.0 by 2010-2011, according to a new forecast from something called Docsis Report. The report helpfully notes that its assumptions on unconfirmed data "mostly are based on official company presentations to Wall Street, where CEOs try hard not to lie."
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News