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Cable Show 2009: Japan's J:Com Racks Up DOCSIS 3.0 Subs

Internet users in Japan are going ga-ga over DOCSIS 3.0, according to Liberty Global chief technology officer Balan Nair.

J:Com, Japan's biggest MSO with 3.2 million video subscribers, launched 160-Mbps download service at the end of 2007. Since then, it has signed up 100,000 customers for the DOCSIS 3.0-delivered service, and 28% of new subscribers are opting for the 160-Mbps service, Nair said.

"It's been very popular," said Nair (left). Overall, J:Com counts about 1.5 million high-speed Internet customers.

For Japanese consumers, having the absolute fastest service is as much a status symbol as anything else, he added. "We haven't seen a huge spike in usage... it's not like people are downloading five times as much video from YouTube."

John Malone's Liberty Global owns about 38% of J:Com, and has interests in cable operators in Australia, Europe and South America.

The J:Com service, which offers 10-Mbps uploads, is priced at 6,000 yen per month (about $65). The service is intended to counter NTT's fiber-to-the-home service, which tops out at 120 Mbps. "DOCSIS 3.0 has given us pricing power back," Nair said.

About one-third of J:Com's new DOCSIS 3.0 subscribers are former NTT customers, Nair estimates. The MSO uses DOCSIS 3.0 equipment supplied by Motorola and Arris.

Nair, who is based in Denver, oversees global network and technology operations spanning four continents and more than 30 million homes.

Prior to joining Liberty Global in July 2007, Nair was AOL's chief technology strategist and had spent 12 years at Qwest Communications International, most recently as chief information officer.