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Its fairly fashionable to dismiss cable service providers and their HFC (and) coax networks, especially when compared to the new fangled fiber and copper-fiber hybrid network being planned by phone companies. In the near term cable guys are better equipped to handle the triple play offerings. (Though their lack of wireless offering is likely to become a headache for them.) Even in the longer term, things are not that bleak for them, thanks to DOCSIS 2.0. (Lets not forget DOCSIS 3.0, the newest iteration of the standards being planned by CableLabs. I am pretty sure there is going to tons of exciting developments there, though right now its a nice little acronym.)
The spec which was approved in December 2002 allows cable MSOs to boost the download speeds of their broadband pipes to 30 megabits per second, enough to retain customers especially when Bells start to seduce the speed freaks with bigger pipes.
There are many advantages to the DOCSIS 2.0. By making some tweaks, DOCSIS 2.0 allows cable providers to double the bandwidth on existing modems. Future modems can at the very least triple the bandwidth being sent downstream to our homes, before hitting the top of around 30 megabits per second. The standard will help cable guys overcome the upstream bandwidth issues, and meet DSL and fiber on a more even footing. Arris, Motorola, and Terayon are three companies said to be working on DOCSIS 2.0 products, and expect many of these to start slowly coming to market by end of 2005. I expect more noise around these products especially at the upcoming NCTA show in early April 2005.
(Not sure if anyone is interested but Cisco has come up with a unique way of piping down 1 gigabits per second over HFC and Japanese cable operator Himwari Network is testing this technology called Wideband Protocol for DOCSIS, and is compatible with Docsis 1.1 and 2.0.)