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D3 a hit for Bright House Networks

Mon, 04/25/2011 - 10:24am
Mike Robuck

Bright House Networks wrapped up the rollout of its DOCSIS 3.0 service in all six of its markets during the recent first quarter and is poised to bond upstream channels, as well.

Bright House Networks, which is the nation's sixth-largest cable operator, first launched its wideband service in Tampa Bay – where it competes against Verizon – in 2009. Bright House Networks was one of the first cable operators to go toe-to-toe with Verizon's FiOS service, and the price point of its wideband service has resonated with customers.

"We have it priced to sell," said Craig Cowden, Bright House Networks' senior vice president of network engineering and operations. "We've been very aggressive in pricing this service. We probably have sold more DOCSIS 3.0 in just Tampa and Orlando alone than the rest of the industry combined.

"We're also the first, or among the first, to enable upstream channel bonding, as well. We could easily move our service tiers up, but it's really more of a marketing decision than a technology decision."

To date, cable operators haven't been very forthcoming on just how many of their data customers subscribe to their wideband services. Time Warner Cable did say it added 5,000 DOCSIS 3.0 subscribers in the fourth quarter of last year, while Comcast has consistently said what percentage of its footprint is DOCSIS 3.0-enabled, which currently stands at north of 85 percent.

Time Warner Cable was a late arrival to the DOCSIS 3.0 party, but Suddenlink recently said it has the service up and running in 73 percent of its footprint.

Bright House Networks' residential wideband service, which is called Road Runner Lightning, features 40 Mbps into customers' homes and up to 5 Mbps on the upstream. The company also offers a 50/5 service to businesses.

As for upstream channel bonding, Cowden said Bright House can bond four separate 3.2 MHz channels at 16 QAM.

"We could define a 10 Mbps upstream tier if we wanted to," Cowden said. "We have the technical capacity to do that. The main reason we've enabled upstream channel bonding wasn't really to serve a marketing desire. It really was to make our upstream much more efficient in terms of capacity for all of our high-speed data customers, and it has really paid off for us. It has really driven network efficiency in the upstream. Otherwise we would have to deploy more upstream port capacity earlier, or at least earlier than we now have to do because we have it enabled.

"In general, after deployment of upstream channel bonding, we have observed a 25 percent to 30 percent efficiency gain in peak utilization, with less erratic utilization distribution across the upstream ports."

Other cable operators, such as Comcast, are in the process of wrapping up upstream field trials. Over on the telco side, Verizon currently has a tier in place that features 35 Mbps on the upstream.


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