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Rogers has own flavor for D3 deployment

Thu, 08/20/2009 - 9:53am
Mike Robuck

While DOCSIS 3.0 deployments have yet to fall into the “ho hum” category, they are becoming more common with the larger cable operators, but give Rogers Communications credit for coming up with its own forward-looking twist on its recent D3 rollout.

On Tuesday, Rogers debuted two DOCSIS 3.0-based wideband services in the greater Toronto area. Ultimate High-Speed Internet has a downstream speed of 50 Mbps and an upstream speed of up to 2 Mbps. The monthly usage allowance is 175 GB and the cost is $149.99 per month.

Rogers’ Extreme Plus features 25 Mbps on the downstream and 1 Mbps on the upstream for $95.99 per month with a usage cap of 125 GB.

Rogers’ D3 deployment differs from the rest to date because it’s using a cable modem gateway from SMC Networks with 802.11n wireless capability. The N gateway, which was first announced in July, combines a cable modem with a wireless router in order to help customers manage their wireless home networks.

“It’s the first North American implementation of a unit that combines 802.11 wireless with a DOCSIS 3.0 modem,” said Chris Draper, Rogers Cable’s vice president of product management. “Rogers has a heritage of innovation, and we pride ourselves on that heritage. We aren’t pioneers here, but we approached this in such a way that we have a unique build and one that is compelling in our marketplace.

“The research that we have done, and the conversations that we have on a daily basis with our subscribers, told us that this kind of product is an absolute must, especially with the proliferation of more and more connected devices in the home. We made a choice to go out with a single unit, and that single unit is this combined 802.11 N gateway.”

Draper said Rogers first started mapping out its DOCSIS 3.0 strategy three years ago, and ensuing research pointed to subscribers wanting faster data speeds. Rogers is currently seeing its overall consumption increase by 3 percent to 4 percent a month, and Draper said he expects that trend to continue over the next few years.

While Rogers doesn’t face a competitor as fast as Verizon in the United States, it has put some distance between itself and Bell Canada. Bell Canada, Rogers’ main rival, has a top tier of 16 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, while its second fastest tier clocks in at 12 Mbps/1 Mbps.

“First and foremost, we’re very proud, and we’ve worked hard on sticking our flag on the fastest and most reliable service in the Ontario area,” Draper said. “We see Bell as a strong competitor. We follow their moves and their announcements very closely through their quarterly analyst calls. We recognize that they’re pulling fiber farther and faster than they were just last year, and given our heritage as innovators, we wanted to make sure that we kept our flag up on that fastest and most reliable claim.”

According to its research, Draper said Rogers’ 25 Mbps and 50 Mbps tiers were sweet spots for its subscribers. The current push for DOCSIS 3.0 in the third quarter is primarily aimed at residential customers, although there are DOCSIS 3.0 offerings available for small businesses.

Rogers is using Cisco’s cable modem termination systems (CMTSs) for its DOCSIS 3.0 deployments. While Shaw Cablesystems elected to bond four downstream channels in order to offer a 100 Mbps service, Rogers is starting with three.

“With DOCSIS 2.0, the theoretical speed in labs is 38 on a channel, but it’s quite a bit different in the production environment,” Draper said. “We elected to bond three channels together and peg that at 50 because we feel that number is the most relevant in the market right now in terms of an extreme speed.”

While Shaw and Comcast have vowed to have DOCSIS 3.0 in around 80 percent of their respective footprints by year’s end, Draper said Rogers is targeting 2.5 million households by the end of the third quarter.

“My expectation is that we will complete the upgrade by the middle to end of 2010,” he said. “When we roll out advanced new services, they’re for everyone in Rogers’ territory.”

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