Charter Nears Gigabit Finish Line

Following another wave of deployments, Charter Communications is close to completing the rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 across the vast majority of its US footprint.

Charter Communications Inc. said this week it has launched Spectrum Internet Gig, its D3.1-powered product, to 12 million more US homes following debuts in markets such as St. Louis; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; Greensville/Spartanburg, S.C.; and Louisville, Ky.

With those deployments factored in, Charter has deployed DOCSIS 3.1 to more than 95% of its footprint, putting it on track to have it available "virtually companywide" by the end of 2018, an official said.

If it meets that goal, Charter will have taken about a year to get D3.1 deployed across the board. Its first deployment, in Oahu, was lit up in December 2017, followed by an expansion to 23 million homes in the spring of 2017, and about 10 million more homes via two tranches -- 4 million in June and 6 million homes -- over the summer.

Boost your understanding of cable's pioneering virtualization efforts, examine early trials and pilots and look at what comes next. You're invited to attend Light Reading's Virtualizing the Cable Architecture event, a free breakfast panel at SCTE/ISBE's Cable-Tec Expo on October 23 in Atlanta.

Charter's cap-free offering, targeted to the higher end of the market, runs $104.99 per month under a promotional price for new customers, and $125.99 per month under its regular price.

The service matches downstream speeds near 1 Gbit/s and an upstream that maxes out at 35 Mbit/s. Charter is also eyeing Full Duplex DOCSIS, an extension to D3.1 that will enable symmetrical gigabit speeds and put the MSO in better position to match up with the upstream capabilities offered by telco competition that's armed with FTTP-based broadband options. (See Frontier Goes Gigabit in Its Fios & Vantage Fiber Footprint.)

Charter's D3.1 deployment is also nearing the finish line as the MSO prepares to face off with pockets of new competition in the form of 5G-based fixed wireless services. However, company executives have been playing down that threat as it eyes Full Duplex DOCSIS and moves ahead with an "inside-out" mobile/wireless strategy that will co-mingle its in-home capabilities with the macro network it has access to via its MVNO deal with Verizon Wireless . (See 5G Fixin' to Become 'Largest Existential Threat' to Broadband Providers – Analysts, Charter's Spectrum Mobile goes full market and Charter's 'Inside-Out' Wireless Plan Starts to Take Shape.)

"I think ten years from now, we'll have 10-Gig symmetrical [service] everywhere," Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said during a recent investor event. (See Charter Chief Shrugs Off 5G Threat and 5G Speeds Can't Match DOCSIS 3.1, Charter CFO Says.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

mdrejhon 5/22/2019 | 5:15:22 PM
Re: Good News I am in Canada too and I use a 1TB consumer dropbox account to sync my entire computer (My Documents, Photos, Videos, etc) while also being able to remotely access it on other devices.   It conveniently doubles as an offsite backup.

Some other reasons for great fast upstream is:

--> Better FaceTime HD/4K and Facebook Video Chat in HD.   A house full of video chatters really appreciates >100Mbit upstream.   I find I more reliably get good FaceTime when ping jitter on upstream is always extremely low (<5ms).   On a 30megabit upstream with high ping jitter variability, the video algorithm likes to automatically dial back to lower bitrates.   More upstream bandwidth means less likely for ping to vary which can cause video chat algorithms to automatically dial back to low bandwidth if it can't achieve needed low latencies.  Also, deafie can do better sign language with 30fps HD

--> Faster sending of 10-second "I love you" videos via text messages.   Seeing them send as quickly as a single photo, is really convenient.   As phones are on WiFi at home, having more than 30 megabit upstream really really really is noticeable for sending 10-second video text messages by teenagers.

--> Gaming is definitely noticeably superior even if you're not playing professionally.

--> Cloud gaming is definitely noticeably superior.   When you're only using 1-5 megabits out of a 100 megabit upstream, it avoids intefering with ping jitter.   But with only 30 megabit upstream cable, the ping jitter is atrociously terrible as even plain jane consumers (not professionals) can feel those 100ms-250ms latency spikes.   Another person who suddenly sends brief surges of data at full upstream will definitely be felt by the casual gamer in latency surge effects on those 1000/30 cable connections (like my Cogeco Ultrafibe Gigabit).

--> Apps such as Google Earth Virtual reality transmits a huge amount of requests to download 3D texture data in realtime; as you turn your head with your VR headset, it downloads the 3D scenery in realtime.   Whenever this software is in use, it seems to noticeably slow down everybody else's surfing with the erratic pingtimes of upstream caused by an intermittently-saturated upstream.   If you have a PlayStation VR or Oculus or Vive.

--> I'm able to get my Steam videogame downloads speedy at 70 megaBYTES a second on a Cogeco Gigabit cable.  When it's happening, surfing by a differnent user notieably slows as upstream pings start to add latency to web roundtrip times -- game slowdown, facetime quality downshift events, etc.   The latency-surges on those 30-megabit upstream connections seems to bottleneck the upstream for everyone else (ping surge effect).

The use of symmetric 1000/1000 like Bell Gigabit Fibe, doesn't have the same latency-spike effect that is annoying even to non-professional gamers playing Fortnite.   

The moment another household member even *briefly* saturate a 30Mbps upstream, creates a very noticeable latencyspike that gearshifts somebody else's FaceTime down 1 quality notch, or a noticeable brief-freeze in somebody's game.  Even 1000:30 causea a 250ms latency spike when the upstream is sometimes saturated.   

There's several weird latency surging effects caused by dozens of users sharing skimpy upstream in the same neighborhood -- even if I use only 5 megabit out of 30 megabit --- the freeway ramps are gridlocked for upstream -- ping latency surge effects are quite common on these highly asymmetric connections.  They are THROUGHLY VERY DAMN ANNOYING if you're used to status quo.

If you're used to a 50 Mbps DSL this is nothing.... But if you've gotten teenagers used to symmetric fiber then suddenly switched to highly asymmetric 1000:30, the downgrade is actually noticeable in a moral-hazard of having gotten used to a superior status quo.
briansoloducha 10/17/2018 | 12:20:28 PM
Re: Good News >I find it extremly hard to believe that anyone in the Cable industry has not heard of my use case.

>Cloud based storage, services are huge and getting bigger.


I'm sure people have; I just was not one of them until you had mentioned it. I am in Canada, and we are not exposed to all the services or marketing that Americans are (depending on what state you are in, of course). For example, I don't think we can get Hulu up here (at least when I tried many years ago). I had not personally heard anyone up here mention cloud-based storage, but I do have my own NAS, so maybe I had heard but had forgotten as not relevant to my own situation.

The company I work for is absolutely aware of the threat of competition from fiber to the home services, and we are working on multiple ways to increase upstream capacity. I cannot give more details at this time, and I respect that the timelines that I personally foresee on increasing upstream capacity will not be sufficient for people who do require, or perceive a need for, significant non-commercial-usage upstream.
stownplayer 10/17/2018 | 6:46:09 AM
Re: Good News I have not seen pricing issues with the newer services. For example, charter spectrum has the ultra tier and the "gig" tier in my area. I believe they are 89.00 and 124 per month. I have the ultra. I refuse to pay 124 per month for cable when I'll only see a 10-15 meg increase in my upload. To be honest, the download is perfectly fine for me. At&T has the Internet 1000 which will give 1000/1000 service for 90 bucks a month. I would pay 120-130 for that. Verizon's 5G home service is 50 bucks a month for a verizon customer and 70 for a non customer. It's looking like the upload in 5g has the potiential to be faster than cable as well. 

So, It appears pricing in competitive and actually lower. I'm sure that depends on your part of the country like all things. 


I don't dispute that the cable companies have made gains and upgraded their infrastructure in recent years. I've been in my area over 15 years so I've seen a vast improvement in speeds. I just think they can do better.


I find it extremly hard to believe that anyone in the Cable industry has not heard of my use case. Cloud based storage, services are huge and getting bigger. This is not a niche market. I use cloud based backups at my workplace and in my home. There are no security issues with cloud backups that I'm aware of. The transmission is ssl encrypted and the actual backup sets are encrypted with a 2048 RSA Key/Pair.  I've recomended Backblaze and Backblaze B2 to many friends and family for backing up Photo collections, music, video and anything else you want to keep safe. 

While it may not be true for your company. I have no idea. I believe the cable industry is dragging their feet a little. It's not simply a matter of business vs residential. Why would you not want to improve your services (upload) for everyone?  Ultimately, I'm not worried. I see the competetion coming , for our area at least, and I will be trying another service because Charter has not given me an option. Current speeds may suit the majority becasue all they do is dribble over twitter or facebook but I'd like to think there are a significant number of people who actually utilize their services.

briansoloducha 10/16/2018 | 7:09:47 PM
Re: Good News Yes, I hadn't thought of consumer cloud-storage. Are there other use cases out there? This is probably big enough by itself, but if I'm going to build a business case for this, I need as much ammo as I can get...
brooks7 10/16/2018 | 6:42:17 PM
Re: Good News As one that recently lived through wildfires, ONLY store home data on clouds.  The number of security engineers that Dropbox (for example) deploys is far greater than any home.  And when your home burns down or whatever...you still have your data.


briansoloducha 10/16/2018 | 3:33:03 PM
Re: Good News It was not a smart-ass answer - I genuinely have never heard that people were considering cloud-based storage for home user environments. (And I would not have thought about that given security concerns, but these should be resolvable in the 3- to 5-year future I hope.)


While I respect your opinion that people will jump ship if they feel a need to do so, I also suspect there will be a pricing component in that decision making. Are you willing to pay an extra $30/month for that higher upload speed? How high or how low are you willing to go for that?


Cable DID upgrade their network; that's why the telcos are panicking and laying fiber everywhere and talking and hyping 5G - it's because THEY LOST at slower and lower speeds, because cable companies MADE the investment.


And now you're saying that CABLE needs to make their networks better?? What do you think we've been doing for the past 10 years? Just milking our coax plant like telcos did with their twisted-pair (I don't know how much G.Fast is out there)? Cable is undergoing fundamental technology changes, covered in Lightreading, including N+0 investments (BILLIONS $$) and Distributed Access Architectures (separate but more BILLIONS $$).


We are doing these things already. What we (or myself, to be specific) have NOT heard is a genuine use case for high-capacity, NON-COMMERCIAL, upload speeds. Thank you for providing one with consumer cloud-based storage.
stownplayer 10/16/2018 | 2:58:06 PM
Re: Good News It does not really matter my use case. I want better upload. I don't really care if you if it's full duplex but these pissy 10,20,30 meg uploads are about useless. Backing up data to cloud services is a royal pain in the ass when the upload is a trickle. I don't really care if the cable industry advances and pushes out Full-duplex but I guarantee you that you'll be looking to do something when your customers start jumping to services that offer better speeds both up and down. I have AT&T Fiber being layed in my area. 5g home services is rolling out and my market is on that radar. Cable simply needs to upgrade their networks or they will have trouble keeping a customer base. 


and in response to your smart ass inquiry...I'm not a gamer or youtube creater.  
briansoloducha 10/16/2018 | 12:41:14 PM
Re: Good News Hi stownplayer,

What is your usecase for Full-Duplex? Are you the 1% that thinks they are good enough at video games to make a living streaming? Or are you the other 1% that creates enough content for Youtube and other sites to monetize your activities?

Please note that both of these activities imply monetization, implying you should be on a commercial package, not a residential package.

Please provide a usecase for a full-blown residential package for full-duplex, because I just can't see it. (And if I can't see the usecase, I can't see how we as the provider are going to monetize it, meaning I'm not going to prioritize building it.)

(And I don't work for Charter, but I do work in this industry and see similar problems.)
stownplayer 10/13/2018 | 8:14:54 AM
Good News I don't really care if they forsee 10 gig in ten years. How about just simple full duplex? Upgrade the network and get us a decent upload. I'd be so happy with 200/200, 300/300 or something like that. 
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