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By Tim McElgunn
August 24 — Comcast Corp. VP of network architecture Robert Howald told Fierce Cable that the company is looking to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 gigabit-capable infrastructure across its entire footprint within the next two years, starting in 2016. Comcast is testing technology built on CableLab's standard, and plans to launch a market trial before the end of this year.
Comcast is facing increasing competition from services such as AT&T Inc.'s U-verse with GigaPower, Google Inc.'s Google Fiber and CenturyLink's gigabit service, as well as from smaller operators such as Wave Broadband.
Comcast expects to be able to offer residential subscribers speeds higher than 1 Gbps using DOCSIS 3.1, according to Howald. “DOCSIS 3.1 allows us to do that and higher,” Howald said.
The comments confirm statements by Comcast Cable President Neil Smit during the company's 2Q15 earnings call. Smit said during the July 23 call that the company expects to compete effectively against AT&T's fiber expansion, required as a condition for the telco's acquisition of DirecTV.
In addition to deploying gigabit speeds over HFC using DOCSIS 3.1 infrastructure in late 2015 and into 2016, Smit said, “We continue to pull fiber deeper as we roll out our Business Services network. And that strengthens the residential network as well. I think we'll be ready to compete. Our fiber – when you think about new households, we pull fiber directly to the new households, [if] we're in a big enough development. And we're also pulling fiber to the premise in some of the large MDU (multi-dwelling unit) complexes. So, we feel good about our network going forward.”
Comcast's 2 Gbps Gigapro service has made little impact to date—in part because of its $300 per month cost and hefty installation fees. Comcast delivers Gigapro via metro Ethernet infrastructure built out for its commercial services business.
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