Midcontinent Picks Fargo for Gigabit Debut

Looking ahead to the DOCSIS 3.1 era, Midcontinent Communications said the Fargo-Morehead West area in North Dakota will be its first market to offer residential gigabit broadband services.

The announcement comes soon after Midco said it would deliver gigabit Internet speeds to its entire footprint by the end of 2017. Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Bismarck and Grand Forks have been identified as Midco markets that would be among the first to get gigabit service.

MidCo noted in July that it would shift to DOCSIS 3.1, an emerging multi-gigabit platform for HFC networks, using the cBR-8, a new Converged Cable Access Platform (CCAP) from Cisco Systems that combines the functions of the cable modem termination system and edge QAM. 

The MSO has not set a precise launch date for gigabit service in the Fargo metro area, noting that it must first deploy DOCSIS 3.1 modems, which will be hybrids that support both DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1-based transport. As was shown at an interop at CableLabs earlier this week, CMTS, modem and chip vendors are making speedy progress with D3.1 as operators prepare to test the platform ahead of initial deployments that are expected to get underway in 2016.

In this week’s announcement, MidCo VP of technology Jon Pederson said in the release that the operator is “collaborating” with Cisco on the new modems (Cisco, by the way, is in the process of selling its CPE division, which includes set-tops and modems, to Technicolor).

Midco has been using fiber to deliver gig speeds, but said DOCSIS 3.1 will enable it to offer those speeds to a wider range of customers. The operator is going all-digital to free up spectrum for DOCSIS 3.1.

“We chose the Fargo metro area as the first area for Midco Gig because of the state-of-the-art technology we’ve been installing in the metro area during our Fargo build-out that started in 2014 and will continue through 2016,” says Pat McAdaragh, president and CEO of Midcontinent.

Midcontinent has more than 300,000 customers and serves parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.