Comcast Counters Subscriber Slump With Speed

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Comcast (s cmcsa) said this morning it plans to roll out its super-fast DOCSIS 3.0 network to 65 percent of its footprint by the end of 2009, and upgrade subscribers in those markets to a minimum speed of 12 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up at no charge wherever possible. Those subscribing to higher tiers will be upgraded to the Comcast’s Blast tier, which will offer download speeds to up to 16 Mbps and provide up to 2 Mbps of upload speed.

New tiers offered with the fatter pipes will include 50 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 10 Mbps of upstream speed for $139.95 a month, as well as 22 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 5 Mbps of upstream speed for $62.95 a month. Higher speeds will certainly help Comcast keep up with Verizon’s  (s VZ) FiOS deployments and will make downloading video a lot faster.

On its earnings call yesterday, Comcast CFO Mike Angelakis said the nation’s largest cable company expects to invest between $400 million and $500 million of capital for the DOCSIS 3.0 deployment and all-digital projects. He declined to break down the details of that spending, however. Comcast had upgraded 20 percent of its footprint to DOCSIS 3.0 at the end of 2008, and said on the call yesterday that it has installed DOCSIS 3.0 in 30 percent of its market.

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Jesse Kopelman

@Alan

Cable cos don’t have the same physical plant model as old-school telco, but they still have COs. The is where the video headend is. It is also the aggregator point to connect the distribution nodes to the national backbone. As you say, distance between the user and CO is unimportant due to the active node topology. It is distance to the node that matters for potential throughput. The issue I was bringing up about Cable COs is that they are not standardized even within the same market. And as far as reliability is concerned, that tends to be more of an access to backbone (through the CO) issue than an RF performance (the DOCSIS link from the node) issue.

Alan Wilensky

I thought cable provider plants did not use the CO model, but a digital carrier over RF that mimics a metropolitan Ethernet WAN. In these cases, distance is less of an issue, or a non-issue, unlike DSL of TP.

Jesse Kopelman

@John

No. Reliability varies from market to market anyway, as much of Comcast’s network was built from a conglomeration of small regional operators. There is no standardization for the central offices. Things are even worse in metro-areas, which are cobbled together from what used to many geographically smaller markets. Moving 10mi can put you on a different CO with different reliability and even different network performance (uplink throughput limits seem to range quite widely). There is little chance that cable cos will do any sort of major overhaul that brings uniformity to the national network any time soon. Maybe when FiOS is available to over 50% of the country . . .

John

Does DOCSIS offer any advantages in terms of reliability/uptime? I’m happy with the speeds I get from Comcast right now but the connection goes down once a week here in seattle. A nuisance to say the least.

jeff

Can someone share their insights on what wider deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 should/could mean for cable’s long expected assault on the small business voice services market? With telcos all but conceding that DSL can’t compete with cable’s fatter pipe what will happen in the business market?

TimB

Previous commenters are right (and faster than me). Nice bandwidth / tolerable pricepoint, but just amplifies the bandwidth cap issue.

Tuyen

Anyone know if there’s a map that shows where the roll out has occured and where it will occur by year’s end?

Andreas

GigaOM: I would really like to read a piece on how the broadband infrastructure is build in different countries. Being able to charge prices like Comcast would make broadband providers in some countries insanly rich. And in others I guess it would create a loss. If we put poor countries aside, how come the cost of providing broadband is so different?

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