Teeing Up Docsis 3.0
Among MSOs, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has been among the most aggressive, stating that it expects to wire up as much as 20 percent of its footprint for the speedier, higher-capacity Docsis 3.0 platform by year's end. Others, including Rogers Communications Inc. (NYSE: RG; Toronto: RCI), Cox Communications Inc. , and Buckeye CableSystem , shed some light on their plans Wednesday, here at the latest Light Reading Live event, Docsis 3.0 Strategies: From Product Development to Deployment.
How quickly MSOs move appears to be largely based on the level of competition they are facing. Rogers, the largest cable MSO in Canada, acknowledges it's not under the same speed pressure as some U.S. operators, because its primary competitor, BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE), is still using DSL and has not announced any plans to pull fiber all the way to the home.
And rather than catering to high-end users with supersonic speeds, the MSO believes it's more important to ensure that all customers get a consistent experience now that cable modem services have reached a mature level and massive numbers of subscribers are accessing the network, according to Dermot O'Carroll, Rogers's SVP of network engineering and operations and the event's midday keynoter.
"The reality is there are very few customers who need a 100 Mbit/s service. But if a competitor is delivering it, you have to as well," he said, noting that some telcos are almost forced to do just that in order to justify the investments they've made with fiber-to-the-home.
Rogers believes it can continue using Docsis 2.0 to deliver downstream speeds of 15 Mbit/s to 20 Mbit/s consistently and economically. The economics "drop off" when speed tiers increase above that range using the Docsis system that's currently deployed, O'Carroll said.
Although Rogers doesn’t have a telco breathing down its neck with a 50 Mbit/s service, the operator does have some plans to take advantage of the cost and performance benefits of Docsis 3.0, particularly for the delivery of symmetrical services to businesses.
Rogers, O'Carroll said, expects to start a downstream channel-bonding "network trial" later this year. The MSO hopes to expand that to upstream tests in 2009, with service rollouts coming in 2009 and 2010. "We think that time line is consistent with what our customers are requiring."
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