Cable Show: Cox To Offer 1-Gig To All

Los Angeles -- Cox Communications has developed a broadband roadmap that calls for the cable operator to offer 1 Gbps speeds to all residential customers, and will kick off that plan in select markets in the coming weeks.

“This has always been part of our roadmap,” Cox CEO Pat Esser said Wednesday on Bloomberg Television’s In The Loop, noting that the MSO has been delivering speeds of 1 Gbps or more to business customers for years.

Cox didn’t  say how and where it will target 1-Gig services during the first phase of that plan, but the aim is to start offering that capability in select areas later this year. Cox will announce more detail about the plan in the next two to three weeks.

Noting that privately held Cox is sometimes “too humble of a company,” Esser said the operator decided that “it’s time that we share our roadmap with our customers and our communities.”

The decision to go wide with 1-Gig capabilities “is a pioneering moment for us,” Esser said.

Cox’s 1-Gig plan also happens to come into view as both Google Fiber threatens to expand its 1-Gig network to more markets, and AT&T puts out similar warnings for its 1-Gig-capable, fiber-based “U-verse with GigaPower” offering.

Given that products based on  DOCSIS 3.1, cable’s next-gen data platform for the HFC network that will target  multi-Gigabit capabilities, aren’t expected to arrive until late next year, it’s anticipated that Cox will boot up 1-Gig residential services in select areas using fiber-based technology. Among recent action, Bright House Networks announced last month that it will use fiber-based EPON technology to deliver 1 Gbps residential services to a new housing development in the Tampa area.

In an interview here at The Cable Show, Kevin Hart, Cox’s executive vice president and chief technology officer, said the operator will be taking a “hybrid” approach to 1-Gig.

Although DOCSIS 3.1 is still out on the horizon, Hart said Cox is has begun to “accelerate operational readiness” for the next-gen platform, which will soon carry the consumer-facing brand of “Gigasphere.”

A significant piece of that is Cox’s coming all-digital transition that will see the MSO reclaim about 60 analog channels and give it room to carve out spots to insert DOCSIS 3.1 spectrum. Roughly 85% to 90% of Cox’s plant is already built out to 1GHz.

Hart said Cox has already picked out two, yet-unnamed suppliers for HD-capable Digital Transport Adapters (DTAs), which are simple one-way devices that several operators are using to facilitate their all-digital transitions. Cox plans to launch its first  all-digital market trial in the fourth quarter, and then ramp up deployments in 2015 and 2016.

Once Cox has reclaimed its analog spectrum, is also looking to beef up its upstream  by performing a mid-split, which involves a widening of the current upstream spectrum range from today’s 5 Megahertz to 42 MHz. Cox hasn’t announced a timeframe for that, but a mid-split is part of the company’s multiyear roadmap, Hart said.