Cablevision Systems Corp. is using out-of-band overlay technology from Narad Networks to deliver a dedicated 50 Mbps data service to commercial customers.

Initially, Cablevision has Narad-enabled two nodes serving customers in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Narad's overlay technology lives on the existing HFC plant, but taps into spectrum above 860 MHz and below 1.1 GHz. Cablevision is starting with a 50 Mbps dedicated data service, but has the ability to push it to 100 Mbps should a customer want that much speed. Such capacity would also provide more than enough headroom for data coupled with multi-line VoIP services. Narad said its architecture roadmap is built to eventually support symmetrical 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps services.

Because it's an overlay, the technology does not require Cablevision to touch plant that's already underground. Instead, it can deliver fiber-like services over the coax end of the network without having to extend more fiber.

Before this technology became available, Cablevision tended to use its HFC network to service small- and medium-sized businesses, and leverage its fiber-fed Lightpath network to handle larger commercial customers.

"It always bothered me that we didn't have a crossover product," said Wilt Hildenbrand, Cablevision's EVP of technology and engineering.

He now has it. Using technology such as Narad's, the distinction between what Cablevision's Lightpath and cable divisions can offer to commercial customers "starts to disappear in terms of who the customer is versus what the technology is," Hildenbrand said.

Hildenbrand said Cablevision will take a targeted approach to future deployments of Narad's technology, and use fiber or Narad-enabled extensions when and where it makes sense. "It could be used for a high-end residential play, but right now, it's [for] commercial deployments," he said. "It certainly doesn't hurt that there's a lot of life in the coax network. Sending fiber to every home and business isn't the only way to compete."

Cablevision marks the first announced deployment with a "major" MSO for Narad, which is also handling WiFi backhaul for CAIW in the Netherlands, and commercial voice services for Delta Cable in Vancouver.

Narad, along with competitors like Xtend Networks, is aiming to help operators offer business-class services via existing HFC networks using spectrum above and beyond what is used for residential offerings.

"Out-of-band [cable technology] is coming into its own," said Narad COO Chuck Kaplan. "It's really all about spectrum. If you're going to be engaging in a competition where the main element of that competition is capacity, sooner or later, you have to get more spectrum."

Kaplan said costs for Narad deployments range from $3,000 to $6,000 per customer. Based on the level of services those businesses subscribe to, operators can expect a return-on-investment within six months to a year, he added.