New York — Despite a pending deal that will split up the nation’s fifth-largest MSO, Adelphia Communications is preparing to raise the bar with a pair of “Extreme” cable modem service tiers.
Speaking here at a CableLabs-sponsored media briefing, Adelphia Chief Technology Officer and SVP of Engineering & Technology Marwan Fawaz said the company plans to offer two new tiers (15 Mbps down/2 Mbps up, and 10 Mbps down/1 Mbps up) sometime in the third quarter. But it probably won’t mark the first U.S. cable modem service to reach such heights. Cox Communications has confirmed that it is offering a 15 Mbps tier in Northern Virginia.
Fawaz did not specify which cities would be the first to receive Extreme. “We’ll target certain markets for competitive reasons,” he said.
Earlier this year, Adelphia raised speeds in all its markets. Its “Premier” tier was raised to 6 Mbps/768 kbps from 4 Mbps/512 kbps; the flagship product was increased to 4 Mbps/384 kbps from 3 Mbps/256 kbps; and “Basic” was upgraded to 256 kbps symmetrical from 128 kbps symmetrical.
Because it was later than many other MSOs with upgrades, Adelphia has standardized on DOCSIS 2.0, complimented by 256 QAM in the downstream, and 64 QAM in the upstream. Fawaz said the capital cost of doubling bandwidth (on just one 6 MHz channel) runs between $4 to $5 per home serviced.
Executives also discussed DOCSIS 3.0, an emerging CableLabs spec that will use “channel bonding” techniques to boost speeds to 100 Mbps and higher. It also supports IPv6, which will give MSOs the ability to better manage their IP address pools and gain more sophisticated provisioning tools.
DOCSIS 3.0 is in the final review period, and a final spec could be ready by early 2006, according to CableLabs CTO Ralph Brown.
Although DOCSIS 3.0 is cable’s answer to fiber-fed data services, Fawaz said current DOCSIS technology is more than enough to fend off DSL performance.
“DSL can’t match our speeds,” he said, noting that faster ADSL2+ technology is still based on customer distance from the central office. “DOCSIS can provide the same speeds throughout any service area,” Fawaz added.