Mediacom Goes Big With DOCSIS 3.1

Mediacom Communications is going all-in with DOCSIS 3.1.

The operator announced Wednesday that its entire network will be upgraded to DOCSIS 3.1 by the end of 2016, with plans underway to roll out speed tiers that deliver maximum downstream speeds of 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps.

Mediacom, which ended Q3 with 1.14 million high-speed Internet subscribers, said the deployment will bring D3.1 to the 3 million homes and businesses served across its 22-state footprint.

That’s a bit of good news for a couple of Mediacom’s suppliers, as the MSO confirmed that the network side of the D3.1 rollout will be powered by Cisco Systems’s cBR-8 converged cable access platform (CCAP, release is here) and Casa Systems’s C100G CCAP.

Mediacom said it will be the first major MSO to roll D3.1 across its footprint. Several other U.S. cable operators, including Comcast, RCN Corp., WideOpenWest, among others, have begun to expand their trials and deployments of D3.1-powered broadband services. Charter Communications is also looking to deliver symmetrical speeds up to 10 Gbps, and is expected to achieve that using a new “Full  Duplex” extension to DOCSIS 3.1.

RELATED: Comcast Sets DOCSIS 3.1 Expansion, Launches 1-Gig in Detroit

Mediacom said it will start to offer its new 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps products on a market-by-market basis in the coming weeks, but has not yet announced pricing and which markets will get it first. In the meantime, Mediacom has been offering a residential 1-Gig product using DOCSIS 3.0 technology in several markets.

But tied into DOCSIS 3.1 handiwork, the operator said it will also bump its entry-level residential tier to 60 Mbps alongside “flagship” tiers that will deliver 100 Mbps and 200 Mbps. That speed bump will also bring a small change to the MSO’s data policy, as the former 50 Mbps/350 Gigabyte tier will become 60 Mbps/400 GB, the company confirmed.

The shift to DOCSIS 3.1 follows Mediacom’s announcement in March that it would invest $1 billion over the next three years for a number of projects, including “Project Gigabit,” an upgrade and expansion initiative to bring 1-Gig broadband to its footprint.

Mediacom’s plan is to beef up its entire HFC network with DOCSIS 3.1 runs counter to an initiative underway at Altice USA, which is opting to upgrade most of its HFC network to a fiber-to-the-premises architecture.

RELATED: Altice USA to Skip DOCSIS 3.1, Roll Out All-Fiber Network

“Mediacom was founded on the principle that hard-working families in the smaller cities and towns in our nation’s heartland deserved the same advanced communications services enjoyed in the largest metropolitan areas,” Mediacom founder, chairman and CEO Rocco Commisso said in a statement. “Through our $8 billion of cumulative investments over the past 20 years in pursuit of that goal, we have enabled the communities where we operate to successfully bridge the digital divide.”

“It has taken a lot of hard work, but less than 10 months from announcing ‘Project Gigabit’ we will have completed the upgrade of our entire broadband network to the Gigasphere platform," added JR Walden, Mediacom’s CTO, in the release. “Deployment of this next-gen technology will considerably enhance the consumer experience today and lay the groundwork for multi-Gig capabilities in the future. With our rapid and seamless transition to this new platform, we have set our communities on an accelerated path into the gigabit era.”