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Comcast Demonstrates DOCSIS 3.0
Though offers few additional specific details...
by Karl Bode 04:21PM Tuesday Jan 08 2008
Earlier this year, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts worked the media into a lather by stating that 150Mbps connectivity would be a reality for the company "within less than a couple years." Those speeds are courtesy of DOCSIS 3.0, a technology that will allow tuning into multiple 6 MHz channels through channel bonding technology, offering shared downstream data rates of 160 Mbps or higher and upstream data rates of 120 Mbps or higher (per channel).

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Comcast says that they're currently engaged in testing, but hasn't offered any additional details other than what's already publicly available -- namely that they have some select early market launches planned for 2008. The company also hasn't specified whether they'll be using any pre-certification DOCSIS 3.0 technology between now and then, which could bring faster speeds before the standard is officially certified.

Roberts took the stage at CES today to again demonstrate DOCSIS 3.0, though his presentation offered about the same detail as his presentation at the NCTA Cable Show in Las Vegas back in May. Comcast's focus today was squarely on promoting the company's various video related projects, though he did illustrate to attendees how with DOCSIS 3.0, they could download a full HD copy of Batman Begins in four minutes.

"The great news is that we’ll have DOCSIS 3.0 rolled out in front of millions of homes in Comcast service areas by the end of this year," Roberts told CES attendees. . . . . .

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The not so great news? Comcast CTO Tony Werner recently stated that 80% of Comcast customers shouldn't expect the upgrades in 2008. When we recently spoke with Comcast, they insisted that the vast majority of their customers were happy with the speeds they are currently getting -- particularly since the company launched Powerboost.

When Comcast does finally get to a substantive deployment of DOCSIS 3.0, initial speeds won't be anything near 160Mbps; they'll likely try to mirror Verizon's FiOS speed packages, which currently top out at 50Mbps, though 100Mbps FiOS is in testing. Comcast will initially struggle to match FiOS when it comes to upstream bandwidth (Verizon just started offering 15 & 20Mbps symmetrical service).

While the DOCSIS 3.0 standard remains stuck in committee, cable operators are deploying pre-certification channel bonding technology that will be firmware upgradeable once the standard is finalized. However, only downstream channel bonding works in these early pre-certification deployments. That means that the few cable operators that are deploying this technology early are having to offer strangely top heavy (to the tune of 100Mbps/2Mbps) connections.

Expect the real DOCSIS 3.0 noise to be made by Comcast in 2009.

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