Cable One has joined the growing ranks of large US cable operators offering gigabit broadband speeds to virtually all the homes passed in its traditional service areas. But it's not going about that in the usual way.
As a result, Cable One said it is now promoting its GigaOne product -- which offers downstream speeds of 1 Gbit/s and upstream speeds of 50 Mbit/s to residential customers for $175 a month -- to more than 1.5 million homes passed in 200 mainly smaller markets across the US. Plans call for boosting its coverage to 99% of homes passed by the end of March and all homes passed by the end of the year.
Unlike its three fellow MSOs, though, Cable One is not going gig across its footprint by offering DOCSIS 3.1 service, which is the newest, multi-gig version of the cable industry's DOCSIS standard. Instead, the cableco is relying on the older DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which can support downstream speeds up to about 1.2 Gbit/s through bonding of up to 32 6-MHz channels.
In an email interview, Cable One officials said they have not yet decided when, or even whether, to start deploying D3.1. "We are currently looking at the advantages of DOCSIS 3.1 but have no specific launch plans," the company said.
In contrast, Comcast, Cox Communications Inc. , Mediacom, WOW and other MSO peers are now furiously rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 to their subscribers to enable gigabit speeds and even Charter Communications Inc. , usually an industry laggard, has picked up the D3.1 torch. Meanwhile, other notable US cable operators, such as Altice USA , are eschewing DOCSIS technology altogether to build fiber-to-the-home links to nearly all their households.
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Cable One, which closed the third quarter with nearly 472,000 data subscribers in its legacy footprint, didn't say how many 1-gig customers it has yet. In fact, no US MSO has revealed those figures yet.
The cableco, which has been prioritizing broadband over video service for years, also didn't say when it would start extending GigaOne to its newly acquired NewWave properties. In that deal, Cable One added close to 450,000 homes passed in parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas and increased its residential broadband customer base by about 110,000.
Cable One said it has now invested more than $700 million on network upgrades and enhancements over the past five years, with more undoubtedly to come.
Europe's largest cable operator reports that both upstream and downstream traffic have jumped since the COVID-19 pandemic hit its markets, with the upstream traffic surging 50% and the downstream up over 20%.
With tens of millions of people now sheltering at home throughout the nation, the three biggest publicly traded US MSOs all reported substantially higher broadband subscriber gains in the first quarter.
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