With limited information on timing, and zero information on price, Comcast announced its first five cities targeted for DOCSIS 3.1 deployments today. Atlanta and Nashville will see gigabit broadband service powered by D3.1 tech in "early 2016," with Chicago, Detroit and Miami following in the latter half of the year.
The big advantage of DOCSIS 3.1 is that it allows operators to launch gigabit services over their existing cable networks. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has been the most aggressive in the US with the technology, although the fact that that company is only announcing five cities so far for all of 2016 suggests that it won't catch up to telco rival AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) any time soon. Google Fiber Inc. has also announced a ramp-up in gigabit city deployments planned for this year, which should add to the pressure on Comcast and other cable providers. (See Gigabites: AT&T to Out-Gigabit Google in 2017 and Google Will Accelerate Fiber, Cloud in 2016.)
Comcast previously launched a multi-gigabit broadband service, Gigabit Pro, delivered over fiber-to-the-home networks. That offering, however, is prohibitively priced at $300 per month. In comparison, Google Fiber typically offers gigabit service for $70 per month, while AT&T's monthly fee tends to range between $70 and $100 for its gigabit broadband tier. (See Comcast trots out Gigabit Pro… at a price.)
On the DOCSIS 3.1 front, Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY) and Videotron Ltd. are among those operators also expected to announce their first deployments of the cable technology in 2016. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. announced this week that it's partnering with TDC Group to begin D3.1 rollouts across Denmark sometime this summer.
There is no word yet on which vendors Comcast is using for its first DOCSIS 3.1 cities. However, a Comcast Xfinity-branded D3.1 modem by Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH) made the rounds at a CableLabs interop event last fall. (See CableLabs Certifies First D3.1 Modems.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading