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TWC Tosses Hat Into L.A.’s 1-Gig Ring

Time Warner Cable said it is participating in Los Angeles’ request for information (RFI) that’s aiming for the development and deployment of a communitywide, 1-Gbps-capable network to residences, businesses and city government facilities.

TWC said its response includes information on the company’s future deployment plans for DOCSIS 3.1, an emerging CableLabs specification that will be capable of supporting multi-gigabit capacities – up to 10 Gbps in the downstream, and at least 1 Gbps in the upstream – using the existing hybrid/fiber coax (HFC) network. At The Cable Show in April, the cable industry announced “Gigasphere” as the consumer-facing brand for the technology. TWC is currently using DOCSIS 3.0 technology to deliver downstream speeds of up to 300 Mbps in Los Angeles and other markets as part of the MSO’s all-digital “TWC Maxx” network upgrade initiative.

CableLabs completed the initial set of product specs for DOCSIS 3.1 last fall. Timelines are in flux as vendors develop products and submit them for certification and qualification at CableLabs, but it’s expected that widespread deployments of D3.1 should be underway within two to three years. TWC, which is in the process of being acquired by Comcast, believes it will be in position to deliver 1-Gig speeds via D3.1 in Los Angeles by sometime in 2016, and that the technology will be ready for “initial pilots” in 2015.

The city issued its RFI request for the last spring, and responses were due today (July 18). The City of Los Angeles Community Broadband Network (LACBN) RFI asked bidders to propose an “enforceable timeline and process for buildout,” and encouraged joint bidding.

“Over the last four years, Time Warner Cable has invested more than $1.5 billion to enhance our infrastructure and services in Los Angeles. This significant investment coupled with new ‘Gigasphere’ technology positions us to be able to introduce gigabit-per-second speeds in 2016,” said Peter Stern, executive vice president and chief strategy, people and corporate development officer at TWC, in a statement. “Leveraging our existing network allows us to deliver these speeds faster and with less disruption than any other provider.” 

Because D3.1 utilizes the legacy HFC network, TWC “can quickly adopt the new DOCSIS 3.1 standards and deliver gigabit speeds for consumers across our entire Los Angeles footprint, not just select neighborhoods and communities,” Stern added.

In the RFI, TWC noted that its 300-Meg service is now offered to “hundreds of thousands” of customers in the L.A. region, and expects to complete the enhancement for all in the service area by the end of the year. It also catalogued the current fiber-based solutions that the MSO already uses to deliver multi-gigabit speeds to businesses, government and academic facilities, and shed more detail on its deployment of quasi-public WiFi hotspots that provide free access to most of TWC’s cable modem subs.

“We believe the introduction of consumer gigabit speeds in our near future will facilitate even greater innovations among students, entrepreneurs and many industries powering the Los Angeles economy,” said Dinni Jain, chief operating officer at TWC, in a statement. “Cable was the first to bring broadband Internet to the masses nearly 20 years ago, and thanks to the dynamic nature of our fiber-rich network, we foresee endless new possibilities as we roll-out gigabit speeds to all of Los Angeles.”