A trusted source at Comcast informs Broadband Reports that before the end of the year, you’ll begin hearing rumblings of a 250 Mbps service. While it seems unlikely that we’ll be seeing any market launches at that speed this year, it highlights what Comcast’s in a position to do as they work toward completing DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades by the end of this year. Comcast has already pushed DOCSIS 3.0 past 90% of their footprint, delivering 50 Mbps speeds in the process. While the company only offers 100 Mbps service in one market, a source tells us Comcast will be pushing faster 100 Mbps service to around 20% of their market by year end.
250 Mbps will take longer, but not much longer. "We’ll get there, but for many practical reasons the early DOCSIS 3.0 systems are designed for 160 meg shared down, 100 meg shared up, using four channels in each direction," industry analyst Dave Burstein tells Broadband Reports.
Until around 2007, cable modems shared a single downstream "channel" of six megahertz carrying roughly thirty-six megabits of data. "Newer chips are supporting eight channels (320 megabits) down, so that will provide spare capacity and occasional speeds of 250 megabits with essentially the same gear."
By "occasional," Burstein is of course referencing the shared bandwidth and oversold nature of the cable network. But with most users simply browsing the Internet, the cable industry (and Burstein) believe that a a well run DOCSIS 3.0 network will actually deliver close to 50 megabits 95+% of the time. But 100 Mbps speeds? We’ll have to see what happens as users and applications become hungrier for bandwidth and these next-gen networks are really tested. Comcast is supposedly using Arris hardware, and Arris has eagerly been showing off their latest DOCSIS 3.0 wares at industry trade shows.
Of course many users simply don’t have a need for 100 to 250 Mbps downstream speeds. There’s more than a few users that are more interested in Comcast beefing up their upstream speeds, and they should be getting a present sometime this year. Faster upstream DOCSIS 3.0 speeds have been in the pipeline for some time, but CMTS (cable modem termination system) issues have slowed deployment. Comcast CTO Tony Werner was initially telling reporters that faster DOCSIS 3.0 speeds would drop during the first quarter of 2010, but all indications are that an upstream bump won’t occur until later this year.
With Cablevision at 100% upgraded, Comcast approaching 100% upgraded, and Cox aiming for 65-70% upgraded by year end 2010, it’s expected that about 60% of the country will be covered with faster speeds by the end of 2010. That’s why the FCC’s recent goal of 100 Mbps to 100 million was largely for show, given the goal really doesn’t require that the FCC lift a finger.