Comcast IDs First DOCSIS 3.1 Markets

Sets Launch Plans for Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Nashville (Updated)
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On the heels of recent field trials, Comcast announced the first batch of markets where it will launch residential and business-class gigabit broadband services using DOCSIS 3.1 technology  – Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Nashville. 

Comcast did not announce pricing for its new D3.1-powered offerings (those details are expected to emerge during the next couple of months), but said it plans to launch D3.1-powered services in Atlanta and Nashville in “early 2016,” and follow with launches in Chicago, Detroit, and Miami in the second half of 2016.

The MSO has not said when it expects to expand DOCSIS 3.1 to the rest of its footprint. "Right now, we’re focused on our first markets and getting them up and running and making sure we are providing a great customer experience," a Comcast official said via email. 

Comcast recently announced it had installed a D3.1-based modem on a “customer-facing network” in late November in its hometown of Philadelphia, and had expanded trials to additional locations in Pennsylvania, Northern California and Atlanta. 

Comcast currently offers a symmetrical 2 Gbps residential broadband service, called Gigabit Pro, using fiber-to-the-premises technology. DOCSIS 3.1, a platform that aims to deliver up to 10 Gbps down and at least 1 Gbps upstream, will enable cable operators to deploy multi-gigabit broadband services via their widely deployed hybrid fiber/coax networks.

Update: Regarding pricing, Comcast expects its D3.1-fueled gigabit service to cost less than Gigabit Pro because it will run on the cable operator's existing infrastructure. Comcast’s fiber-based Gigabit Pro service currently costs $299.95 per month (with a two-year contract) and is available to about 18 million homes in select markets that are within one-third of a mile of Comcast’s fiber network. By comparison, Google Fiber offers a standalone 1-Gig residential broadband service using FTTP for $70 per month.

CableLabs recently awarded certification to DOCSIS 3.1 modems made by five suppliers – Askey Computer, CastleNet, Netgear, Technicolor and Ubee Interactive.Those devices, hybrids that can carry both DOCSIS 3.0- and DOCSIS 3.1-based traffic, are expected to cost 30% to 50% more than DOCSIS 3.0-only modems. 

“We’re constantly working to ensure that our customers get the fastest speeds available, and that they get them first,” Bill Connors, president of Comcast’s Central Division, said in a statement. “DOCSIS 3.1 represents a tremendous step forward in our commitment to keeping customers at the technology forefront.  Combined with all the upgrades we have already put into our advanced fiber optic-coax network, this technology will not only provide more gigabit speed choices for customers, it will also eventually make these ultra-fast speeds available to the most homes in our service areas.”