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Cable/Video

ONO Will Go Full Throttle

The broadband speed wars are heating up in Europe, just as they are across the Atlantic.

In the latest instance, ONO is gearing up to roll out a new 500 Mbit/s downstream tier in Spain next month. ONO CEO Rosalia Portela announced the speed upgrade plans at the CTAM Europe EuroSummit conference in Barcelona Friday, according to a report in Digital TV Europe.

Speaking on a CEO panel, Portela didn’t elaborate much about ONO’s plans. But she did say that, with the Spanish economy hurting badly, the nation’s largest cable operator is focusing on high-speed broadband, its TiVo-based video product, and other services that differentiate it from its main telco rival, Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF).

Currently, like many large European and North American MSOs, ONO maxes out at 100 Mbit/s downstream. But a number of European cable providers are now boosting top speeds even higher as they try to match or stay ahead of telcos and ISPs building out fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) networks.

In late August, for example, Swedish cable operator com hem AB began offering a new, high-end broadband tier featuring 500 Mbit/s downstream and 50 Mbit/s upstream service. With the launch, Com Hem, the largest MSO in Sweden with nearly 1.8 million connected homes and more than 1 million broadband customers, more than doubled its maximum download speed from its previous 200 Mbit/s.

If anything, Com Hem faces even tougher data competition in its home country than ONO does in Spain. Although it’s the largest Swedish MSO, Com Hem is just the fourth largest fixed-line broadband provider in the country, after Telia , Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO), and Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN).

Com Hem is relying on Docsis 3.0 technology to power its new 500 Mbit/s service. Portela didn’t spell out whether ONO will use Docsis 3.0 as well, but that seems pretty likely.

Both new MSO services come as the European Commission continues to egg on broadband providers to boost their transmission speeds. Under the commission’s Digital Agenda manifesto, at least 30 Mbit/s downstream service is supposed to be available to all of the continent’s citizens by 2020. Plus, broadband providers are expected to offer 100 Mbit/s service to at least half of European homes by then.

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

albreznick 9/23/2013 | 3:23:41 PM
Next? OK. So now we have 2 big MSOs in Europe revving up to 500 Mbit/s. Who will be next? And who will be the first to go up to 1 Gbit/s? I'm taking bets.
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