Suddenlink Boots Up 1-Gig Broadband

Moving forward with its previously announced Operation GigaSpeed initiative, Suddenlink Communications said Thursday that it has lit up a 1 Gbps (downstream) residential broadband service in an initial batch of markets – Bryan-College Station, Texas; Nixa, Mo.; and Greenville and Rocky Mount, N.C.

Tied in, residential high-speed Internet customers in those markets who are on two other speed tiers will get a free speed boost – those on the 75 Mbps (downstream) service will now get 100 Mbps, and subs who take the 100-Meg tier will be upped to 200 Mbps. The MSOs standard residential downstream speeds in this initial batch of markets will be up to 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 200 Mbps and the new 1-Gig offering.

Suddenlink did not announce pricing on the new 1-Gig service, but an official noted that it would be “competitively priced.” With discounts available through new customer promotional offers service bundles, residential Internet services from Suddenlink now range from $35 to around $100 per month.

According to pricing data for Suddenlink’s system in Bryan, Texas, obtained by Multichannel News, the standalone 1-Gig service, which is paired with an upstream that maxes out at 50 Mbps, sells for about $109 per month (customers can rent a WiFi-enabled modem for $10 per month or a stand-alone modem for $5 per month). A source familiar with the service indicated that 1-Gig would sell for a lower monthly price when bundled with other Suddenlink services.

Like other Suddenlink residential broadband services, the new 1-Gig tier will have a monthly data plan whereby customers can purchase buckets of additional data if they exceed their monthly allotment. Information about it is posted here, noting that the MSO’s  “monthly data plans have proven to be more than sufficient for substantially all customers.” 

Suddenlink confirmed that it is currently using DOCSIS 3.0 technology to deliver the new offering. “With equipment upgrades and channel bonding, we are able to deliver more than 1 Gig to the modem,” a Suddenlink official said via email.

State-of-the-art DOCSIS 3.0 modem chips from suppliers such as Intel and Broadcom can bond up to 32 downstream channels – enough to support downstream bursts of 1.2 Gbps in North American systems that use 6MHz-wide channels, and up to 1.6 Gbps on EuroDOCSIS systems that utilize 8MHz-wide channels. DOCSIS 3.1, an emerging platform specified by CableLabs, is gunning for multi-gigabit speeds. Some cable operators are expected to start some small, initial DOCSIS 3.1 deployments by late this year.

Suddenlink’s technical approach will enable it to offer 1-Gig service on a broad basis.

“In contrast to companies like Google and AT&T, which are generally offering a Gigabit service only to a few neighborhoods in primarily urban markets, Suddenlink is making its service available to all households passed by the Suddenlink network in the listed communities and will do the same in other markets where the company plans to launch the service,” the MSO said.

Suddenlink unveiled Operation GigaSpeed in August 2014, announcing that it intended to raise its top downstream high-speed Internet speed to 1 Gbps in 90% of its footprint by 2017. The initiative encompasses network upgrades, including all-digital migrations that free up valuable bandwidth for things like DOCSIS channel bonding, and the replacing of remaining deployed DOCSIS 2.0 modems with D3.0 CPE.