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Cable/Video

Ziggo Preps Docsis 3.0 Launch

Ziggo B.V. , a major cable MSO in the Netherlands, looks to be gearing up for another Internet speed increase after placing a "large initial order" for Docsis 3.0-certified embedded multimedia terminal adapters (E-MTAs) from Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS). (See Ziggo Taps Arris Docsis 3.0 Gear.)

Arris did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but Ziggo has agreed to purchase the vendor's Touchstone TM702 series E-MTA, a voice modem that gained the CableLabs Docsis 3.0 stamp last summer. (See Arris EMTA Gets 3.0 Stamp.)

A full, current list of Docsis 3.0-approved modems and cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) can be found here.

Ziggo, which was formed when three cable operators (@Home, Casema, and Multikabel) joined forces in May 2008, plans to use the Arris device to deliver faster Internet speed tiers alongside its carrier-grade VoIP service. Ziggo boosted the speeds of its existing, single-channel cable modem tiers last November.

The operator, which serves more than 3 million residential and business customers, plans to introduce Docsis 3.0-based services by April 2009. Initially, it will use the technology to bump its current, top-end stand-alone cable modem tier (dubbed Ziggo Z3i) from 30 Mbit/s downstream to 40 Mbit/s. By July, Ziggo plans to unveil a wideband tier for its triple play service bundle that caps the downstream at 50 Mbit/s, according to an MSO spokesperson. Today, the high-end speed tier for the service bundle tops out at 20 Mbit/s downstream.

The minimal requirements for Docsis 3.0 call for the bonding of four channels in the downstream and upstream direction -- enough to produce shared Internet speeds in excess of 100 Mbit/s. Initially, most MSOs have relegated channel bonding to the downstream direction.

Ziggo didn't spell out as much, but it's quite clear that the MSO is bracing for more competition from incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), which has some ambitious network upgrade plans already in motion. KPN is starting off with targeted deployments of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) in five cities, and is expected this year to assess plans for a broader rollout. (See Dutch Hold Back on FTTH Frenzy, KPN, Reggefiber JV Approved, KPN Plans FTTx, Cuts More Staff, and KPN Invests in FTTH.)

Once Ziggo unleashes a wideband tier later this year, it will join a growing group of European MSOs adopting Docsis 3.0 in response to growing competition from fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) or DSL-based services. Others that have launched Docsis 3.0 or have made plans to do so include Virgin Media Inc. (Nasdaq: VMED) in the U.K.; Numericable-SFR in France and Belgium; UPC Broadband in the Netherlands; Welho in Finland; and ONO in Spain. (See Virgin Media Readies 50 Mbit/s Service , Wideband by the Pound, Liberty Takes 120 Mbit/s to the Dutch, Cable Europe Touts 100-Mbit/s Offers, and ONO! Another Docsis 3.0 Story!)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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