Time Warner Cable last week signaled it's ready to move
ahead with use of standardized modems, starting in the second-quarter in a rollout of
high-speed data services at its Kansas City, Mo., system.
The decision to go with modems built to the DOCSIS 1.0
standard, the initial version of the Data Over Cable System Interface Specification, marks
the first publicly announced move in this direction for Time Warner's high-speed data
service supplier, Road Runner, as well.
But it will soon be followed by many more commitments to
DOCSIS rollouts on the part of Road Runner affiliates, said Bob Cruickshank, vice
president for technology at Road Runner.
"We're going to be DOCSIS going forward after March 31
in all green fields," Cruickshank said, noting this includes new hub extensions in
existing high-speed data markets. "There will be upwards of a half-dozen new market
launches by the end of the year."
Road Runner affiliates, which include systems served by
Time Warner's venture partner MediaOne and a few other MSOs, are not waiting for
completion of certification of DOCSIS modems to begin their preparations for rollouts,
"Manufacturers have been very helpful in indemnifying
operators for any software or hardware changes that will have to be made with regard to
modems that are deployed prior to certification," he noted.
"Certification isn't holding us up at all," he
The certification process at Cable Television Laboratories
Inc. is entering a key phase this week with completion of testing in the current, seventh
cycle of the process and a vote by the certification board anticipated before week's end.
While some vendors are "very close," CableLabs
president Richard Green said it was impossible to say whether any would be certified until
the testing and voting are completed.
While the timing of certification is no longer crucial to
the rollout schedules formulated by Road Runner partners, it is vital to going forward
with "the retail play," Cruickshank said.
He noted the pace of certification was determined by the
MSOs as well as Road Runner and @Home Network members participating on the certification
board, as opposed to being a matter that was strictly up to CableLabs.
"We want to make sure we don't have the same situation
to deal with that occurred with the first cable-ready TV sets, many of which were returned
because they didn't meet consumer expectations," Cruickshank said.
"We're at a stage now where we feel the process has
been very successful and orders are being made for tens of thousands of DOCSIS
modems," he added. "Certification for retail distribution will be the icing on
No matter what happens with DOCSIS, Time Warner's Kansas
City schedule assumes the system will be able to launch with certified modems during the
second quarter, officials said.
The system had originally planned to launch high-speed data
services before the end of last year, said Time Warner Kansas City spokeswoman Carol
Rothwell, but, like many other systems, it held back pending completion of the
"No one told us to wait," she said. "But we
don't make any decisions in isolation."
The system will start out offering the modems on a rental
basis as part of the $39.95-per-month service charge, Rothwell said, with the intent of
adding retail distribution later in the year. Vendor selection is down to three unnamed
finalists, she added.
The system is on course to launch digital TV services this
summer, she added._