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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