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WOW Gets D3 Ball Rolling

Jeff Baumgartner

WideOpenWest Holdings LLC (WOW) is prepping its networks for faster Internet speeds, quietly noting on its tech blog that it has "converted" about 20 percent of its gear to support Docsis 3.0, a CableLabs spec that can provide bursts of 100 Mbit/s or more.

WOW, a competitive cable operator known for snaring J.D. Power and Associates awards and, more recently, for criticizing the proposed Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)-NBC Universal merger, did not say when it intends to launch Docsis 3.0-powered high-speed Internet services. However, a company spokeswoman told Light Reading Cable that all WOW markets are looking to upgrade "over the course of the next year or so."

That will, in turn, offer more speed competition to several larger "incumbent" MSOs. Denver-based WOW competes primarily with Comcast in Chicago and Detroit; Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; and with Insight Communications Co. Inc. in Evansville, Ind.

Comcast already has D3 deployed in Chicago. It hasn't launched D3 in Detroit yet, but it shouldn't be too much longer before wideband makes it to the Motor City, because Comcast has already indicated that it expects to have all its networks Docsis 3.0-ready by "early 2010." (See Comcast to Wrap Wideband, All-Digital Rollout This Year.)

TWC has introduced D3 in Cincinnati, but not yet in Cleveland and Columbus, though they are believed to be on the MSO's launch short list. Insight, meanwhile, has hinted that D3 upgrades are part of the plan, but has not announced any launches. (See The 'Nati Gets Docsis 3.0 and Time Warner Cable's Next Docsis 3.0 Targets .)

WOW also isn't ready to reveal what prices and speeds will grace its future Docsis 3.0 offerings. According to WOW's list of Internet service tiers, its current fastest product is "Xtreme Turbo," which offers bursts of 15 Mbit/s downstream and 2 Mbit/s upstream.

Heavy Reading forecasts that North American MSOs will pass 90 million homes with Docsis 3.0 by 2012, equal to about 70.3 percent of all cable homes passed in the region. Heavy Reading estimates that about 50 million homes had access to wideband at the end of 2009. (See Wideband Growth Continues in North America.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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