Mediacom Communications announced yesterday that its entire HFC broadband network will be gigabit-capable by the end of 2016. It will thus become the first major cable company to fully transition to the DOCSIS 3.1 "Gigasphere" platform.
Gigasphere is the cable industry's attempt to brand products and services that use DOCSIS 3.1, the next generation of the Data Over Cable Interface Specification (DOCSIS) spec. Developed and advanced by CableLabs , the industry's research and development consortium, the spec combines the capabilities of both DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 on a single platform and will support both generations of cable modems. Expect to see the Gigasphere brand name pop up in more corners of the globe as other cable operators get on board the D3.1 train.
Mediacom Communications Corp. confirmed that the network side of the D3.1 rollout will be powered by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)'s cBR-8 converged cable access platform (CCAP) and Casa Systems Inc. 's C100G CCAP device. The company said virtually all of the homes and businesses served will have access to new 500Mbit/s and 1Gbit/s downstream speeds in the coming weeks, though pricing has yet to be finalized.
"Our transition to next-generation multi-gig capabilities will significantly enhance our customers' experiences," said JR Walden, Mediacom's chief technology officer. "As the first major cable operator to fully deploy DOCSIS 3.1, we are pleased to have worked with Cisco to seamlessly migrate our network infrastructure."
Mediacom, the fifth-largest cable operator in the US, ended Q3 with 1.14 million high-speed Internet subscribers. The D3.1 upgrade will bring new speeds to 3 million homes and businesses across the company's 22-state footprint in the Midwest and Southeast.
The news comes on the heels of Mediacom's announcement back in March of its $1 billion private capital investment plan to upgrade and expand its broadband network over the next three years. "Unlike some other competitors who offer 1-Gig speeds only in select neighborhoods in their service areas, our 1-Gig service will be accessible to absolutely everyone within the reach of our network, regardless of the size, income level or other demographics of their community," said Mediacom Founder and CEO Rocco B. Commisso.
With Mediacom throwing down the Internet speed challenge against its rivals and showing confidence in DOCSIS, it will be interesting to see how other broadband players respond. In the wake of another large US MSO, Altice , choosing to go the all-fiber route, Mediacom's move should at least create a more stimulating and competitive environment.(See Altice Favors Fiber Over D3.1 for Its US Upgrade.)
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In 2020, CSPs need to fight back by transforming their business models, which are becoming more reliant on a single source of revenue: fixed broadband services.
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