Videotron Hits the Gas
Previously, Videotron capped the downstream of its fastest tier at 20 Mbit/s using a single 6 MHz Docsis channel.
The MSO’s “Ultimate Speed Internet 30” tier sells for CAD$64.95 per month (US$64.78), and the “Ultimate Speed Internet 50” product goes for CAD$79.95 per month (US$79.74). Videotron has also tailored the new tiers for business customers, but they carry a premium price.
As this is a pre-Docsis 3.0 implementation, the upstream will remain capped at about 1 Mbit/s. The full CableLabs Docsis 3.0 specification calls for a minimal configuration of four bonded upstream channels and four bonded downstream channels.
Videotron is referring to the new channel-bonded products as TVG 30 and TVG 50, short for “très grande vitesse” to refer to France’s high-speed rail service.
“Like the train, our new TGV Internet service will be an international performance leader,” according to Videotron SVP of marketing, content, and product development Manon Brouillette, who presented the new product launch in Montreal on Wednesday morning. The MSO provided Brouillette's speaking notes to Cable Digital News.
In what could turn out to be a controversial move, Videotron has also opted to put a byte cap on the new tiers. The 30-Mbit/s version will limit transfers to 30 gigabytes per month, while the 50-Mbit/s level will be capped at 50 gigabytes. (See A Tip of the Broadband Cap and TWC to Test Broadband Toll Booth .)
Videotron is offering the speedier tiers initially to about 112,000 homes in Laval, near Montreal, and expects to roll them out gradually to other systems in Quebec. Heavy Reading senior analyst Alan Breznick, who was on Videotron’s call with analysts this morning, said Montreal is next in line to get the new tiers.
The launch follows a Wideband beta trial the MSO and vendor partner Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) embarked on in 2007, which involved about 150 customers and achieved "tested and managed" stable downstream speeds as high as 98 Mbit/s.
But why, then, did Videotron opt not to go with a 100-Mbit/s service right off the bat?
The MSO felt that achieving such speeds didn't match up with the wants of Videotron’s broader customer segment. “We want to gear our services to the majority,” Brouillette said, according to the speaking notes. “After having carefully studied the market, it was determined that speeds of 30 and 50 Mbit/s suited the needs of the market, as well as consumer demand, existing technological capacities, and the Internet chain.”
Videotron’s commercial rollout taps Cisco’s flagship cable modem termination system (CMTS), the uBR10012, and a modem from its “DPC” line. It was not immediately known whether Videotron is using the DPC3000, a Docsis 3.0-based modem Cisco introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show last month. (See Cisco Debuts IP Hubs for the Home.)
(Cisco’s CMTS obtained “Bronze”-level Docsis 3.0 qualification late last year. CableLabs has yet to certify any modems for Docsis 3.0: See Cisco, Arris & Casa Make the CableLabs Grade.)
According to Breznick, Videotron officials said the initial rollout is bonding two downstream Docsis channels, but will bond a third channel as it progresses with further testing of Docsis 3.0 technologies.
Videotron, which has about 933,000 high-speed data subscribers in Quebec and 1.63 million cable subscribers overall, will use the new tiers to up the competitive ante with the likes of BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE).
In comments made today, Brouillette stressed that the new tiers are not just for techies and Internet junkies, but “for the general public, which is now using the Internet as an important tool in their daily lives.” She cited an example showing how it would simultaneously allow one member of a family of four to download a movie, while others are streaming video to a PC, playing a network-based video game, or browsing for podcasts.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News
Interested in learning more on this topic? Then come to Docsis 3.0 Strategies: From Product Development to Service Deployment, a conference that will take a comprehensive look at the cable industry's plans to roll out its next-generation architecture around the world. To be staged in Denver, March 19, admission is free for attendees meeting our prequalification criteria. For more information, or to register, click here.