TW Cable Plans Major Service Upgrades In NYC & LA

Time Warner Cable said it all-digital upgrades in New York City and Los Angeles will pave the way for a more reliable network that will drive a fleet of new, advanced video and broadband services, including residential speed upgrades that will enable the MSO to pump out downstreams of up to 300 Mbps.

TWC, the subject of sharp criticism from Charter Communications about the MSO’s operations strategy, has applied the internal label of “TWC Maxx" to the new initiative.

NYC and L.A. will be the first markets in line for the TWC Maxx treatment. TWC completed its all-digital conversion in NYC last year, and expects to finish the job in Los Angeles this year. The MSO intends expand its all-digital upgrades in other markets in 2015 and 2016 as part of a three-year growth plan announced Thursday on TWC’s fourth quarter earnings call.

TWC, which will use simple Digital Transport Adapters (DTAs) to help facilitate its all-digital migration, said it will roll out service upgrades to neighborhoods on a hub-by-hub basis as areas become TWC Maxx-certified. The first four in line are West Hollywood and Costa Mesa in California, and Staten Island and parts of Woodside (in Queens) in New York.

Taking a page from Comcast’s playbook with Project Cavalry (the MSO's all-digital initiative) and its use of the Xfinity sub-brand to signal the launch of fresh offerings, TWC said it will use the bandwidth it frees up from its analog reclamation to unleash a suite of new and enhanced services. TWC plans to roll out a consumer sub-brand for the new customer experience later this year.

At the service level, broadband customers on each upgraded hub will be in line for automatic speed boosts and, in some cases, souped-up DOCSIS 3.0 gateways outfitted with Wi-Fi.

At the top half of the speed table, customers on TWC’s “Ultimate” tier (50 Mbps down by 5 Mbps upstream) will jump to 300 Mbps down by 20 Mbps; “Extreme” (30/5) will rise to 200/20; and “Turbo” (20/2) will leap to 100/10. TWC's Ultimate tier in California offers 100 Mbps down and will also move to 300 Mbps under the TWC Maxx plan.

Further down the speed chain, “Standard” will shift from 15 Mbps down by 1 Mbps upstream to 50 Mbps by 5 Mbps; “Basic” (3/1) will move to 10/1; and “Everyday Low Price Customers” (2/1) will go to 3/1.

On the video side, TWC said it will more than double its VOD library to 75,000 hours, and, later this year, start to deploy high-end video gateways/DVRs outfitted with six tuners. The operator will also offer to switch out standard-definition boxes for HD set-tops are capable of using he MSO’s new cloud-based user interface.

TWC is also using the overhaul to accelerate the deployment of its new UI, which is already offered on about 3 million boxes in New York, Los Angeles and other parts of the MSO’s footprint. The current goal is to deploy the UI on at least 6 million boxes this year.

TWC plans to start offering these new services to customers in NYC and L.A. by mid-to-late spring, a spokesman said.