Comcast boosts data speeds in Ore., Wash. with wideband

Tue, 11/18/2008 - 7:40am
Mike Robuck

Comcast’s march toward having 20 percent of its footprint powered by DOCSIS 3.0-enabled wideband services before the end of this year took another step forward with slated deployments in Oregon and Washington State.

The nation’s largest cable operator said starting next month, the faster wideband speeds will be available to residential and business customers in the parts of Washington and Oregon that it serves.

On the telco side, those states are part of Qwest’s western footprint, although Verizon has its service in a few large cities.

At January’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Comcast CEO Brian Roberts pledged to have DOCSIS 3.0-enabled broadband tiers in 20 percent of its footprint by year’s end .

Comcast-OR-WA“We are well on our way to reaching the stated goal of 20 percent now that we are in Twin Cities, Boston Metro, southern New Hampshire, Philly Metro, New Jersey, Portland, Seattle, Spokane and Eugene,” said Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas in an e-mail to CED. “We will have more announcements to make on a market-by-market basis over the next couple of months.”

Like previous wideband deployments, the new residential tiers in Washington and Oregon are Extreme 50 and Ultra. Extreme offers download speeds of up to 50 Mbps and upstream speeds of 10 Mbps for $139.95 per month.

Ultra clocks in with 22 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up at a cost of $62.95 per month.

Business customers will also have access to the new wideband services. Customers can sign up for the Deluxe 50 Mbps/10 Mbps tier for $189.95 per month.

Comcast used pre-DOCSIS 3.0 wideband modems from Cisco in its first launch of wideband services in the Twin Cities in April, but Douglas said modems that have been conditionally certified by CableLabs will be used in Oregon and Washington.

Comcast is also working with Arris, Motorola and other DOCSIS 3.0 vendors, but the operator didn’t say whose equipment is being used for the latest deployments.

DOCSIS 3.0 can achieve downstream broadband speeds of up to 160 Mbps by bonding 6 MHz – or in the case of Europe and some parts of Asia and Latin America, 8 MHz – channels together. DOCSIS upstream channel bonding can provide up to 120 Mbps of shared throughput for cable operators.

Current requirements for DOCSIS 3.0 call for equipment to support channel bonding on at least four upstream and four downstream channels, although the platform gives operators the flexibility to bond as few as two channels to meet market needs and competition.

Comcast is currently bonding three streams and plans to bond upstream channels next year, according to Douglas.

Comcast also increased the speeds at no additional charge for most of its existing customers in Oregon and Washington:

  • Performance tier customers will benefit from doubled downstream and upstream speeds, offering up to 12 Mbps and 2 Mbps, respectively.
  • Performance Plus customers will be upgraded to Comcast’s Blast! tier, which will double their download speeds to up to 16 Mbps and provide up to 2 Mbps of upload speed.

Existing business class customers will also receive a complimentary speed increase: speeds on the Starter tier will be doubled to up to 12 Mbps/2 Mbps, and a new Premium Tier will be introduced with speeds up to 22 Mbps/5 Mbps for $99.95 per month.

Videotron was the first North American cable operator to deploy a wideband-enabled data service, while Insight Communications recently said it was testing a 100 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 service (story here). Cox Communications is also conducting DOCSIS 3.0-powered trials this year ahead of deployments next year.

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