DOCSIS 3.0 Blazes Across the Landscape

April 24, 2013
The consumer benefits of DOCSIS 3.0 are weaving their way through North American markets. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), for example, made news several times last month by doubling the speed of its mid- and high-tier Internet plans in a number of states - including Was...
The consumer benefits of DOCSIS 3.0 are weaving their way through North American markets. Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), for example, made news several times last month by doubling the speed of its mid- and high-tier Internet plans in a number of states - including Washington, Oregon, Colorado, California and Florida - bringing its "Extreme" downstream offering all the way to 105 Mbps.Likewise, Canadian operator Cogeco Cable (TSX:CCA) has been busy launching D3-based high-speed packages throughout its markets. Deployment is greater than 95% complete, with just small pockets remaining, said Ron Perrotta, Cogeco's VP of marketing and strategic planning. Its highest tier currently is the Ultimate 60, with 60 Mbps in the downstream.How well are the new speeds being received? Customers signing up for Cogeco's Internet service for the first time are split into thirds, Perrotta said. One-third is choosing the Ultimate 30 or Ultimate 60, one-third selects Turbo 14 or Turbo 20, and one-third is sticking with the Express 5 or Express 10, which offer 5 Mbps or 10 Mbps, respectively. The legacy base, however, is still predominately in Turbo and Express for the time being.Usage-based billing has been in place in Canada for a little while now, so all of the plans come with a cap. With the new speeds and package offerings, the company aims to make sure customers are in the one that best fits their needs."Where we do see usage billing, we will contact the customer (and) check their consumption patterns," Perrotta said. "It might be more economical to move into a tier up .... It is less about technology and more about making sure customers across the full range of tiers are in the right tier for them."Across the board, the company tries to keep the usage-based billing in the single digits. "When we see the percentage of customers getting beyond double digit percentages in terms of the base falling into usage billing, it is a trigger for us that the caps need to be adjusted .... Growth in demand in consumption sometimes overshoots us and we have to adjust," Perrotta said. Cogeco has increased its caps twice this year already.To achieve the benefits of DOCSIS 3.0 speeds, customers need to upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 modems, and this is playing out in broadband customer premises equipment (CPE) sales, with Infonetics Researchreporting device revenue increasing 13% to $7.7 billion in 2012. Cable CPE was the largest growth segment, thanks, in part, to DOCSIS 3.0.Monta Monaco Hernon is a free-lance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].