Time Warner Cable Powers Up Wideband In Big Apple

Time Warner Cable's New York City division cut the ribbon Thursday on 50-Mbps DOCSIS 3.0-based Internet service, which the operator will use to battle Verizon's FiOS Internet in the nation's biggest market.

Time Warner Cable is marketing "wideband" services to New York residents and businesses, touting top speeds of 50 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps up. New York is the first market TWC is rolling out DOCSIS 3.0 next-generation cable modem technology.

"Everybody in this town is in a hurry," Howard Szarfarc, executive vice president of Time Warner Cable's New York City region, said at a launch event. "The fastest Internet experience is now coming to New York customers, something faster than they've ever seen before."

TWC's Cable Wideband Internet service for residential customers is $99.95 per month for 50 Mbps down and 5 up. The Business Class Wideband Internet is available in two tiers: 50/5 for $298 per month, and 20/2 for about $200 per month, said Ken Fitzpatrick, president of commercial services for TWC's New York region.

The services are available as of Thursday in Manhattan south of 79th Street, and in parts of Staten Island and Queens. They will be available across the entire New York service area, which includes parts of northern New Jersey, before the end of the year, Szarfarc said.

Time Warner Cable has not announced where it plans to launch DOCSIS 3.0 next, but the MSO expects to roll it out to additional markets in early 2010, spokesman Justin Venech said.

In New York City, TWC is aiming to counter Verizon's fiber-to-the-premises FiOS network buildout. The telco currently offers Internet speeds of 50 Mbps down and 20 up in various parts of the metro area.

Other cable operators that have launched DOCSIS 3.0-based services include Comcast -- which is aiming to deploy wideband to 40 million homes, or close to 80% of its footprint, by the end of 2009 -- as well as Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, Charter Communications and smaller operators such as Suddenlink Communications and BendBroadband.

James Manchester, president of network operations and engineering for TWC's New York region, said the DOCSIS 3.0 upgrade has been "a Herculean logistical task" since the operator finished negotiated pricing from its equipment vendors in April. The project required essentially a "forklift upgrade" to the Arris and Cisco Systems cable modem termination systems in its headends, Manchester said.

When the MSO completes the DOCSIS 3.0 upgrade across the region Dec. 15, about half the footprint will be served by Cisco's uBR 10K modular CMTS and the other half by Arris's C4 integrated CMTS, Manchester said. TWC is using Harmonic's universal edge QAMs in front of the CMTSs.

On the customer-premises side, TWC New York initially will offer customers SMC Networks' DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem with four Ethernet ports and built-in 802.11n wireless networking, and also will provide Wi-Fi USB adapters. Next year, Manchester said, the operator will be evaluating DOCSIS 3.0 embedded multimedia terminal adapters (eMTAs) -- which combine data and voice functions -- with integrated wireless networking.

The cable operator demonstrated the wideband services at Metropolitan Home's Showtime House, ensconced in a pair of penthouses in the city's Tribeca neighborhood. The apartment, which is powered by Time Warner Cable, showcases original Showtime series in each room. Szarfarc said the Showtime House was the first apartment TWC wired for DOCSIS 3.0 service in New York.

Time Warner Cable's New York City region serves 1.4 million customers in four of the city's boroughs -- Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island and western Brooklyn -- as well as in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., the Hudson Valley region and New Jersey's Bergen and Hudson counties.