DOCSIS 3.1 to Take Mediacom to New Heights

The nation’s fifth largest cable operator, Mediacom Communications, plans to upgrade its 22-state footprint by the end of the year using next-generation DOCSIS, or version 3.1. The new telecommunications standard enables cable multiservice operators to provide the same high-speed (10 Gbps) broadband connections over their existing hybrid fiber coaxial (HFC) infrastructures that fiber to the home (FTTH) offers its users.

Comcast and other cable operators deploying DOCSIS are doing so because of 3.1’s backward compatibility with DOCSIS 3.0, meaning that existing HFC cable lines gain high-speed broadband with the switch—no digging required.

Mediacom’s improvements include cable platforms from Casa Systems and Cisco. The company’s Thomas Larsen, SVP of government and public relations, has stated that the dual vendor approach is a common practice for Mediacom, and one that ensures “where the products are going to be when we need them.”

The cable operator’s gigabit-ready network first launched in Missouri in 2016. More widespread introduction of the gigabit speed has been held up by availability of DOCSIS 3.1 modems. “Quantities (of modems) are limiting at this point,” Larsen said. “We wanted to have a slower market rollout so we can meet demand.”

So far this year, Mediacom has gone live with DOCSIS 3.1 in all of its Iowa systems, as well as service territories in Alabama and Tennessee. Lee Beck, a senior manager with Mediacom, has reported that the company has invested more than $8 billion of private capital in its national network “to ensure that hard-working families throughout the smaller markets we serve receive the same advanced communications services as America’s largest cities.”

Pricing strategy

Demand for gigabit is expected to be light initially, according to Larsen, who expects it to come mostly from gamers and home-based workers. “The average household just doesn’t need that speed just yet,” he said, noting that available wireless routers don’t support gigabit speeds today, being more in the 300 Mbps range.

According to a NewBay Media article, a Mediacom official said pricing on the 1-Gig (downstream) service will be $139.99 per month as a standalone, along with “promotional package offers” that will also be made available later. The new service is paired with an upstream that achieves 50 Mbps maximum.

Mediacom also has announced a new tiering structure. The company has eliminated its 3 Mbps to 50 Mbps service offerings. The lowest speed available will now be 60 Mbps. There will be price differentiations based on data allowance: 150 GB, 250 GB or 400 GB.

Mediacom hasn’t announced where it will launch the new, speedier services next, but noted that it will be expanding them on a market-by-market basis throughout 2017.

“We want to be a true broadband company,” Larsen stated. With its introduction of gigabit-ready networks in smaller communities across its service areas, Mediacom is responding to the global marketplace, where access to ultra-fast broadband services is critical to ensuring sustainable economic growth.