Thursday, February 1, 2007

How Does 100MB Bandwidth Sound? Videotron and Cisco Can Bring It

Well, here's an interesting story. Just got off a con call with Videotron and Cisco - very interesting stuff. They're partnering to deliver broadband speeds up to 100 MB per second for Videotron's subscribers, using Cisco's wideband "solution", based on their CMTS platform, which is DOCSIS 3.0 ready.

I'm not a specialist in cable technology, but they get these higher speeds using bonded channels, and they explained how they can get up to 24 channels bonded. The question of bonded channels being an immature technology came up, but Videotron is confident enough that it's ready for prime time.

Videotron has been trialing this for over a month successfully with real customers, and they have been working with Cisco on this for 18 months. They plan to bring it to market in the next few months, but no date has been set. I suspect they have a lot of things to work out still, both technology-wise, and in terms of the user experience. It was also mentioned they will be offering this to the business market, which is quite interesting, especially in light of the news on Tuesday about Rogers and Mitel launching a hosted IP service for SMBs.

Interestingly, they did not have to make any upgrades to their network, so this has not required a major investment. Being DOCSIS 3.0 ready, Cisco's Wideband solution interops with multiple cable modems. This of course includes their new Scientific Atlanta and Linksys wideband modems, but on the call, they did explain how the service would support other DOCSIS 3.0 compliant wideband modems, so Videotron subscribers are not bound to using Cisco modems.

On the call, it was stated they have been able to deliver 98 mbps, so the target of 100 is real. They also said that they can achieve "much higher" speeds as well. It must clarified, though, that we're only talking about download speeds. This came up on the call, and Videotron explained that upstream bonding hasn't been done yet, so current upstream speeds will remain the same for subscribers using this service - at least for now.

So, the big question for me is - if you build it, will they come? Clearly, they've been testing this, and believe there will be demand. They opened the call talking about how things like YouTube are really changing the way people use the Internet, and need ever increasing bandwidth. Totally agree.

What we don't know, is how much bandwidth do they really need, and of course, how much is it worth to subscribers? I asked these questions on the call, and they really don't know yet how much bandwidth the market will demand. They may offer 50, they may offer 75, they may offer 100. It's still early days, and you have to wonder just how many people really need 100 mbps. And at what price? They didn't comment on pricing, and that's going to be the key issue.

Regardless, Videotron continues to be a disruptor in Quebec and is sending another message to Bell about their willingness to set the pace and push the envelope, whether it be on pricing or technology. Am sure all the MSOs will be watching this one closely along with Bell.

The press release was just posted to Cisco's site, and I'm sure it will be up on Videotron's later.

I should also note that Mark Goldberg had a good post about this on Monday, following his briefing with them about the news.

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ipcom said...

Posted by: dataplumber

Bigger, faster, better? Not always.

In the UK, I've just been upgraded to 8Mbps DSL. That should be enough for a 6Mbps high-def video stream and internet access at the same time shouldn't it? If you're getting an MPEG-2 stream it'll be more like 2Mbps, which would permit several streams to different parts of the house at the same time.

We're probably going to see speeds in the region of 24Mbps here soon-ish, which is going to be great for multiple high-def streams. But 100Mbps? Sure - there'll come a day when it is useful, but I can't imagine that happening within the next 5 years, can you?

I guess it's a good marketing point though... Good luck to them.

ipcom said...

Posted by: Brad

Upstream is what is required right now. That, and no traffic shaping.

Right now, if I want to download a torrent of Linux, I seem to have problems with network lag. This, when I limit my upstream to 20k/sec, and I've been promised about 90k/sec.

100mbps is useless if Videotron is not going to provide adequate upstream. I don't want to just download, I want to share home movies with my friends, email 100MB files to people, you name it.

Just how do all those youtube videos get on the site, anyhow? What use is 100mbps downstrem, if it takes people 5 days to upload, what takes 30 minutes to download?

Work on the upstream, videotron. Work on the upstream. I want to see symmetrical service.