L.I.’s 100-Mbps Highway

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Cablevision Systems Corp. last week said it had deployed a Narad Networks Inc. broadband-access network on its coaxial cable plant, allowing the MSO to offer 100 Mbps of bandwidth to smaller businesses — and potentially to residential customers.

The MSO said it was initially targeting the Long Island, N.Y., community of Oyster Bay for a 100-Mbps symmetrical service — 50 Mbps downstream and 50 Mbps upstream.

“The initial deployment of a 100-Mbps data service is a powerful and unmistakable indication of the enormous capacity of the state-of-the-art network,” Cablevision executive vice president of technology and engineering Wilt Hildenbrand said.

Cablevision will initially target smaller businesses with the service. Until now, Cablevision used the fiber plant deployed by its Lightpath subsidiary to provide commercial high-speed services.

Cablevision has installed upward of 10 Ethernet switches from Narad, according to Chuck Kaplan, the vendor’s chief operating officer.

“We’ve deployed a passive architecture,” he said. “We bring 1 Gig over the existing fiber to the node. We use different wavelengths out of that 1 Gig,” with each of four coaxial trunks coming out of that node carrying 100-Mbps service.

The deployment lets Cablevision use coaxial cable to reach business customers, instantly increasing the number of marketable businesses for Lightpath.

“It starts out really extending the reach of the business market,” Hildenbrand said. But it could be offered to residential subscribers “if they want to pay the freight for this kind of stuff.”

While Hildenbrand allowed that the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification provides certain advantages for residential service, the Narad gear gives Cablevision more ammunition to address residential needs. “This was a way at extending the capacity over to coax,” he said. “The only way to do coax was with DOCSIS.”

Rival Verizon Communications Inc., through its FiOS project, plans to offer 30-Mbps service to residential customers.

The move signals MSOs’ desire to compete with telcos for smaller business customers, Kaplan said. “Over the last six months, we’ve seen competition coming into sharp focus,” he said.

He said the cable industry is getting serious about the midsized commercial market, where businesses typically have between one and 10 T1 lines.

Kaplan said Narad has launched similar architecture with several other MSOs. “They are all offering different levels of services,” he said.

Narad uses out-of-band spectrum above 860 MHz but below 1.1 GHz, he said, staying below the level where taps and passives would be necessary.

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