5 Truths about Comcast’s super modem

Brian Roberts created quite a stir at The Cable Show earlier this week when he showed off the new super modem that could bring data to your homes at about 160 megabits per second. The demo was great (watch video) but it was a lot of FUD, Here are five reasons why:


* The modem is based on DOCSIS 3.0, which allows the cable operators to offer 160 megabits down and 120 megabits up. At some point in the future it will be expanded to a shared gigabit, thanks to Cisco.
* These speeds are shared, not dedicated. In other words, you, the subscriber is going to get between 20-to-50 megabits, NOT 160 megabits per second as Roberts said. Comcast has about 400 customers per node, and imagine all of them logging on at the same time.
* It is not going to be in couple of years. In 2005, gear maker ARRIS was talking about availability in two years. ABI Research had predicted shipments in 2007 and 60% market penetration by 2011. Looks like we are running late on those forecasts, so why should it be any different this time around.
* Even though TI is talking about shipping DOCSIS 3.0 related silicon in early 2008, sources say that might be too optimistic. There is a lot of hedging going on in the ecosystem, especially on the chip-side. 2010 is my best estimate on when this new superfast modem does show up.
* Historical Fact: Roberts’ future spin is good, but let’s not forget Comcast was an investor in @Home, which offered 10 megabits down service back in the day. Before cable companies killed it, of course to sell their own slower services.

So why did Roberts show off the modem? My best guess: Comcast and rest of the cable industry is actually quite scared of Verizon’s fiber approach. What do you think?

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