Report: DOCSIS 3.0 To Blanket U.S. By 2013

U.S. cable operators will have deployed DOCSIS 3.0 to 99% of homes passed by 2013, according to an analysis by research firm Pike & Fischer.

Of 120 million homes passed nationwide by cable networks at the end of 2008, around 15 million -- roughly 13% -- were passed by DOCSIS 3.0, Pike & Fischer estimated. The firm expects that number to increase to nearly 53 million households in 2009 and to 119 million by 2013.

Comcast, for example, plans to complete the deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 across its entire footprint by the end of 2010, estimated to be 50.3 million homes.

Cablevision Systems this week announced it will offer ultra-high-speed to 5 million homes to its New York-area customers starting in mid-May.

Annual spending on DOCSIS 3.0 equipment will peak in 2010 at $400 million, Pike & Fisher estimated, and will total less than $1.2 billion over the next five years.

The main driver behind cable's DOCSIS 3.0 build-outs are operational cost savings and the ability to expand high-speed Internet services to small and midsize businesses, rather than home-based users, according to Tim McElgunn, an analyst with Pike & Fischer's Broadband Advisory Services research group.

"In our view, it is not the prospect of vastly increased residential high-speed data revenue that will encourage rapid deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 technology," McElgunn wrote in the summary to the "DOCSIS 3.0 Deployment Forecast" report.

McElgunn cautioned that the projections are based on individual company statements, the firm's own analysis and the expected decrease in the cost of DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades over time. In addition, the forecast assumes the total number of homes passed by cable operators will remain unchanged.

Furthermore, some cable providers may "choose to cut short their DOCSIS deployments in favor of moving to fiber-based solutions such as Ethernet passive optical networks, resulting in the industry never reaching 100% coverage," McElgunn noted.