U.K.-based cable operator ntl is boosting its downstream speeds to 10 Mbps, but will match the upgrade with consumption-based tiering.
Although current 3 Mbps customers will be the first to receive the upgrade, ntl said 10 Mbps will be the standard speed as it is offered across the board by year-end. Some customers will be required to install a new modem, said ntl, which has 3 million residential customers, and 1.4 million high-speed Internet subscribers.
How customers use that speed will play a big role in how the service is billed. Although customers will be capped at 10 Mbps down, they will also have to choose a consumption tier. ntl said it will offer an “unlimited usage” package, but has yet to disclose pricing on its consumption tiers. For customers who do not opt for the unlimited tier, they will be capped at 75 Gigabytes (GB) per month, up from a current cap of 30 GB.
The operator is also testing a “Turbo Button” that will enable customers to increase their speeds when downloading a large file, such as a movie. ntl did not disclose the technical details of it, but the CableLabs PacketCable Multimedia platform is designed to inject QoS into a range of IP applications, including bandwidth-on-demand.
The operator added that the 10-Meg upgrade is just the beginning. Looking toward DOCSIS 3.0, an emerging specification that uses channel bonding techniques, as well as ADSL2+, the operator hopes to leverage its hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) and copper plants to offer speeds of 30 Mbps to 50 Mbps, as well. ntl noted that it is testing a 20 Mbps service in Chorleywood with a range of schools, small businesses and residences. There, the operator is using the faster IP connection to test services such as HDTV, 1,000-channel radio, and video conferencing.
“This is a major step toward delivering Britain’s digital future,” said ntl CEO Simon Duffy, in a release.