Suddenlink Boots Up 300-Meg Internet Tier

Launches Faster Speeds In Two Texas Systems (Updated)
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Suddenlink Communications is using its DOCSIS 3.0 platform to launch a new 300 Mbps (downstream) tier across two Texas markets – Leander and Pflugerville – with plans to do the same in Georgetown later this summer.

The new tier, which is paired with an upstream that maxes out at 15 Mbps, is roughly triple the capacity offered in those Texas systems via the MSO’s previous high-end tier, which pumps out 107 Mbps down and 5 Mbps upstream. Georgetown, Leander, and Pflugerville, which are nearly half way done with the rollout of 200 WiFi access points, were also first to get Suddenlink’s 107 Mbps service in March 2010.

Suddenlink has not announced when it expects to introduce the new 300-Meg offering outside of this initial set of markets in Texas. "We are actively working on those plans, but for competitive reasons, won’t publicly disclose a timeline," a Suddenlink spokesman said via email.

Suddenlink is playing up the fact that it can offer those speeds to all residential customers in Leander and Pflugerville, rather than to smaller pockets that are being targeted by competitors. Among recent examples in Texas, Google Fiber plans to start connecting homes in Austin, Texas, later this year; AT&T has rolled out its fiber-based U-verse with GigaPower service in the Austin area, starting off with symmetrical speeds of 300 Mbps, with plans to hit 1 Gbps by mid-2014. AT&T expects to roll GigaPower to parts of Dallas sometime this summer. Both AT&T and Google Fiber are using a demand-based model to determine their build out plans.

“Based on public reports and additional research, it appears AT&T U-verse has cherry-picked where it will offer its service, while Google Fiber is nowhere to be found,” Michael Naumann, Suddenlink’s senior director of operations, said in a statement. “In contrast, we’re making our 300 Meg service available to 100 percent of the residential areas we serve in these communities.” 

Suddenlink is marketing the new tier, called Internet 300, for $65 per month to new residential customers, according to the MSO's Web site, when home addresses for Leander and Pflugerville are plugged into the Suddenlink system. In comparison, Suddenlink is pitching its 107-Meg service for $55.00 per month at those same addresses.

Update: Suddenlink confirmed that $65 per month is the bundled and stand-alone price on the 300-Meg service

A Suddenlink spokesman said the monthly usage allowance on the new 300 Mbps offering is 500 Gigabytes per month. That allowance level represents a sizable step above its other tiers. According to Suddenlink's current broadband usage policy, residential customers who get a maximum download speed of 50 Mbps and 107 Mbps are paired with a monthly usage allowance of 350 Gigabytes before they are subject to a $10 charge for each additional bucket of 50 GB of data. According to the policy, Suddenlink customers aren’t billed for exceeding their monthly allowance until the third overage. Also, Suddenlink does not consider an account to be over its monthly threshold until usage exceeds the published allowance by 2%.

Suddenlink reactivated its broadband meter and usage-based policy about a year ago.

Offering max downstreams of 300 Mbps via DOCSIS 3.0 technology has become a new high water mark for a growing number of U.S. cable operators.

Time Warner Cable, for example, recently introduced broadband speeds of up to 300 Mbps (downstream) in parts of New York City, Los Angeles and Austin as part of its “TWC Maxx” all-digital network and service upgrade initiative.

Comcast has been using its fiber-based Ethernet platform to power a 505 Mbps (downstream) residential service in select markets.