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Cable One Guns for a Gigabit

Cable One is joining the gigabit club.

The MSO announced Thursday that it will offer a 1-Gig (downstream) residential broadband service in more than 200 cities next year.

That offering, branded as GigaONE, will initially be powered by DOCSIS 3.0, the platform that fellow mid-sized MSOs, Suddenlink Communications and Mediacom Communications, are using for their respective 1-Gig residential services. On the horizon is DOCSIS 3.1, a platform that will bring multi-gigabit capabilities to HFC networks. 

According to the FAQ for GigaONE, the service will provide max downstream speeds of 1 Gbps paired with a 50 Mbps upstream path. To receive that service, customers will need an approved DOCSIS 3.0 modem that can bond 32 downstream channels.

Pricing and the data plan for GigaONE will be announced in early January. Cable One’s current top residential broadband tier offers 200 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up, paired with a monthly consumption ceiling of 500 gigabytes.

Cable One will offer GigaONE across its network, and has set up a web site that will keep track of deployments. Customers can also register to be alerted when GigaONE is available to them.

The following Cable One markets will get GigaONE in Q1 2016: Altus and Duncan, Okla.; Borger, Texas; Emporia, Kan.; Bisbee and Cottonwood, Ariz.; and McCall, Idaho.    

“GigaONE will support the technology needs of the communities we serve, now and in the future,” said Joe Felbab, vice president of marketing for Cable One, said in a statement. “We are excited to be able to offer Gigabit service to nearly 1.5 million homes in the markets we serve.”

Cable One said it has invested more than $500 million over the past five years on network upgrades and enhancements.

"Unlike many of our competitors, Gigabit service will be available to all of our customers – not just a select few in certain areas,” Felbab noted in an apparent reference to the buildout model of  providers such as Google Fiber and AT&T (for GigaPower).

But even as Cable One puts more emphasis on broadband than video, the results haven’t shown it yet.

While larger MSOs had blowout Q3s with respect to broadband sub growth, Cable One’s year-over-year growth, at about 2.1% , was comparatively weak. The MSO added 9,259 residential data subs in Q3, extending its total to 457,973.

“The evidence for a stronger-than-expected link between broadband and video certainly isn’t conclusive, but it’s enough to raise legitimate questions about Cable One’s video-lite strategy,” MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett, who sees Cable One as an M&A candidate, said in a research note issued today. However, ARPU in the broadband category is growing (up 7.7%) thanks to  aggressive pricing paired with faster speed tiers.