To witness the speed potential of cable’s DOCSIS 3.0 platform working in the real world and outside the controlled confines of a lab, consider booking a trip to Sweden.
Com Hem, the Scandinavian nation’s largest cable operator, last week launched what is believed to be the fastest residential high-speed Internet tier powered by DOCSIS 3.0, unveiling a service that delivers downstream bursts of 500 Megabits per second alongside an upstream that maxes out at 50 Mbps. While lofty, those speeds still trail what’s being offered by some fiber-to-the-home networks around the world. Google Fiber, for example, is starting to deliver symmetrical 1 Gigabit-per-second speeds.
But going with a DOCSIS approach gives Com Hem the advantage of offering much faster speeds without the cost of a FTTH upgrade. Offered initially to more than 1 million households, Com Hem’s new tier runs about $138 per month and gives the MSO another high-end weapon to wield against competing telcos, such as Telenor and TeliaSonera.
Com Hem confirmed to Multichannel News that it is using a DOCSIS 3.0 gateway capable of bonding 16 downstream channels to power the new offering. In EuroDOCSIS systems that use 8-Megahertz-wide channels, a fully-loaded modem with 16 channels can produce bursts of 800 Mbps, providing the necessary headroom to launch a tier with advertised max speeds of 500 Mbps.
Newer 24-channel D3 modems, such as the Hitron-made gateway Canadian MSO Rogers Communications unleashed earlier this month, can surpass 1 Gbps on a EuroDOCSIS network. Broadcom has also developed a D3/gateway system on a chip that can bond up to 32 channels.
While it’s unclear how many Com Hem customers will be lured to the speedy 500-Mbps offering, the launch shows the kind of speeds current DOCSIS 3.0 technology can provide. The new offering also fits snugly into the European Commission’s “Digital Agenda,” which calls on the region’s ISPs to offer download broadband speeds of at least 30 Mbps to all citizens by 2020, with at least 50% of European households subscribing to Internet tiers providing speeds of at least 100 Mbps by that time.
Com Hem has struggled to expand its broadband subscriber base in Sweden’s highly-penetrated broadband market. It ended the fiscal fourth quarter with 543,200 high-speed broadband subs, down from 544,300 in the third quarter, and 550,900 in the year-ago quarter.
HALFWAY TO 1 GIG
But the MSO has developed a broadband lineup designed to meet the needs of a diverse mix of Internet users. Last week, Com Hem also boosted the speed of its previous fastest broadband service from 200 Mbps to 250 Mbps (downstream), while maintaining its monthly price of $76. That’s being matched up with broadband tiers offering maximum downstream speeds of 100 Mbps, 50 Mbps and 10 Mbps.
Com Hem’s launch of a 500-Mbps service marks the halfway point to the next, anticipated real-world DOCSIS speed milestone: 1 Gigabit per second. The emerging CableLabs DOCSIS 3.1 specs will aim much higher — up to 10 Gbps in the downstream and 2 Gbps in the upstream.
Facing tough telco rivals, a European MSO unleashes the world’s fastest D3 residential Internet tier.