Cablevision Rebuts Verizon Claims About 101-Mbps Service

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Cablevision Systems countered Verizon Communications' criticisms of its planned 101-Mbps Internet service as "spin," and the cable company pointed to its track record of achieving the highest-penetration broadband service in the U.S.

Cablevision's Optimum Online Ultra, to be available starting May 11 across the New York area, promises download speeds twice as fast as Verizon's 50-Mbps FiOS Internet tier. And at $99.95 per month, Cablevision's service is around 28% less expensive than the FiOS 50-Meg service.

Verizon senior vice president of media relations Eric Rabe, in a blog posting Wednesday, dismissed the Ultra DOCSIS 3.0-based service as "a parlor trick" and complained that Cablevision was delivering a service with questionable market demand.

"For now, CVC's leap to 101 Mbps is about market positioning and bragging rights rather than delivering a useful service to a mass customer market," Rabe wrote.

Rabe also suggested that the Cablevision service would consume most of the bandwidth available in a neighborhood. "[G]iven the inherent limits of the cable platform, a cluster of bandwidth junkies living near each other could be a real problem," he speculated. "One estimate is that a single 101 Mbps customer would use some 60% of the capacity in a neighborhood. Other users? Outta luck."

In response, Cablevision vice president of media relations Jim Maiella said in a statement: "Faster is faster, bottom line, and we've continued to attract customers and win J.D. Power and Associates' awards as the top broadband provider in our market, with two levels of very fast service and a broadband market share that exceeds 75%."

Cablevision has consistently provided the bandwidth levels promised to customers, according to Maiella, maintaining top customer-service rankings even after introducing a 30-Mbps downstream / 5-Mbps upstream premium tier three years ago.

At the end of 2008, the operator had 2.5 million high-speed Internet subscribers, representing a 52% penetration rate of homes passed.

Cablevision said the 101-Mbps service will be available to 5 million homes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut passed by the operator's network starting next month.

As for the claim that there's no market demand for such an ultra-high-speed service, Cablevision and other providers have noted that multiple PCs and devices in an office or household would benefit from having access to a higher-speed link.

And Verizon's Rabe - who claimed the FiOS network can deliver up to 400 Mbps to a home - conceded in his post that eventually customers will begin to demand speeds in the 100-Mbps range.

"Cross-network speeds will increase and demands from users at home will escalate as new applications are developed for services like video, but also for services that don't exist today," he wrote.

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