US MSOs Get Rolling With 100-Meg Wideband

Taking a cue from operators in Europe and Asia, domestic cable MSOs are starting to push the speed needle with Docsis 3.0-based tiers that deliver bursts of 100 Mbit/s or more.

Suddenlink Communications remains the nation's D3 speed king with the steady spread of its 107-Mbit/s (downstream) tier, eclipsing Mediacom Communications Corp. 's 105-Mbit/s offering and Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s 101-Mbit/s service. (See Suddenlink Unleashes 107-Meg Wideband Tier, Suddenlink: US Cable's New Speed King? , Mediacom to Wear Speed King Crown , and Cablevision Debuts 101-Mbit/s Wideband Service.)

But the next US cable operator that's making 100-meg moves is none other than Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), the nation's largest.

After debuting a Docsis 3.0-powered, 100-Mbit/s business-class tier in the Twin Cities last September, the MSO has since launched it in Augusta, Ga.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; parts of New Jersey, Philadelphia, Northern Delaware, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., confirms Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas, noting that others are on deck. (See Comcast Gets Bizzy With 100-Meg Tier .)

Comcast's D3 lineup will soon also include a tier targeted to residential customers who have a need for speed. Comcast has not revealed the speeds associated with that tier, but rumors that surfaced at The Cable Show in May indicate that the MSO is cooking up a wideband tier that cap speeds at 105 Mbit/s downstream and 10 Mbit/s upstream. (See Comcast Getting Amped Up? )

No word yet on pricing, either. However, Comcast charges $99.95 per month for its bundled 50-Mbit/s D3 service, and $112 to $114 per month as a standalone, depending on the market. Its biz-class D3 service runs $369.95 per month, but bundles in the Microsoft Communication Service and other extras that may not grace the residential tier.

Douglas confirmed that the residential tier is "coming soon," and will be factored into markets where Comcast has launched its "Xfinity" brand. Comcast is using the new moniker and touting the coming of 100-Mbit/s-plus speeds in areas where at least half the market is wired up for D3, and a significant number of subs have been migrated to digital as part of the operator's "Project Calvary" initiative. (See Comcast's $1B Bandwidth Plan and Comcast Sends In the All-Digital 'Cavalry'.)

Several Comcast markets have received the Xfinity upgrade, but the MSO hasn't said which ones will get the higher speeds during the initial wave. However, based on where Comcast has launched the Xfinity brand so far, here's a list of the early candidates:

  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Baltimore
  • Washington
  • Chicago
  • Portland, Ore.
  • Seattle
  • Hartford, Conn.
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • San Francisco/Bay Area
  • Denver and Colorado Springs, Colo.
  • Southern New Jersey
  • Independence, Mo., region
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Central California (Sacramento and Central Valley)
  • Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.
  • Miami
  • Pittsburgh

Getting a 100-meg residential product out the door will give Comcast some perception value in its battle with competitors such as Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), but there's no guarantee that the speedier tiers will do much to drive new customers beyond early adopters or those that are using applications that require such speeds. Comcast, by the way, added 399,000 high-speed Internet subs in the first quarter, extending its total to 16.3 million.

A recent Cable Industry Insider report from Heavy Reading suggests that cable will need to play up the other features and capabilities of Docsis 3.0 to attract a broader base of customers. (See Docsis 3.0: It's More Than Speed.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

jobenso 12/5/2012 | 4:29:53 PM
re: US MSOs Get Rolling With 100-Meg Wideband

So if Comcast offers this new bandwidth option to it's customers, does it also include the 250GB cap. All this speed, but no race track to play on is a downer. Its great having the fastest car out there, but if you can't leave the driveway... why bother.


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:29:52 PM
re: US MSOs Get Rolling With 100-Meg Wideband

The same cap on "excessive use" for resi servies applies  to D3 and below, so, yeah, you will get to that cap faster if you get anywhere near the best effort bursts of the wideband tier, so that'll have to factor into decisions.  AT least that goes for the 50-meg resi tier. haven't heard anything to suggest otherwise with the 100-meg+ tier that's coming out, but removing it for that tier might be an interesting carrot for them to stick out there . JB

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