Suddenlink Widens DOCSIS 3.0 Rollout

Suddenlink Communications nearly doubled its DOCSIS 3.0 deployment in the second half of 2009, with the cable operator bringing the next-generation cable-modem technology to systems representing approximately 23% of basic video subs by Dec. 31.

Last summer, Suddenlink announced DOCSIS 3.0 deployments in several Texas communities, including Georgetown, Lubbock, and Midland. In addition, the operator has rolled out the technology in Abilene, San Angelo, Bryan/College Station, and Terrell, Texas; Charleston, Beckley and Parkersburg, W. Va.; Jonesboro, Ark.; Nixa, Mo.; and Humboldt County, Calif.

"We have now launched 20-Mbps service in substantially all of these markets, and are actively planning launches of even faster services in some of these and other areas we have targeted for DOCSIS 3.0 deployments," Suddenlink senior vice president of corporate communication Pete Abel said in an e-mail.

The top 11 U.S. cable operators have rolled out DOCSIS 3.0 to more than 52 million homes and business as of January, according to a Multichannel News survey. Comcast accounts for the bulk of that figure, with the operator passing more than 38 million homes as of January 2010.

Suddenlink has an approximately $350 million capital investment plan through 2012, above and beyond Suddenlink's traditional capital-spending levels. That was facilitated by a $600 million debt offering by the MSO's parent company, Cequel Communications.

Under the investment plan, Suddenlink expects to deploy DOCSIS 3.0 to 90% of basic subs by 2012. In addition, the cable operator expects to move to all-digital lineups, significantly boost the number of HD channels it offers -- to as many as 200 HDs in most areas -- and make high-definition video available to 97% of basic video subscribers by 2012 (up from 86% in June 2009), as well as increase availability of VOD and digital phone service to 90% of subscribers.

According to Abel, approximately $230 million of the investment plan will be used for infrastructure and equipment upgrades and $120 million will be used for success-based capital, which is primarily customer-premise equipment.

Suddenlink serves about 1.3 million residential and commercial customers in parts of Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia.