Midco Truck

Midco expects to defer the decision about whether to deploy DOCSIS 4.0 for network upgrades, said Dr. Pao Lo, vice president of network engineering for the company, in an interview with Telecompetitor. The plans to defer the decision stem from the promise Midco sees in new technology that goes by at least two different names, including DOCSIS 3.1 Plus and DOCSIS 3.1 Extended.

“We’re pumping the brakes on DOCSIS 4.0,” said Lo. “DOCSIS 3.1 Plus buys us north of five years of runway at a minimum. We can kick the can down the road on DOCSIS 4.0.”

DOCSIS 3.1 Extended provides downstream speeds up to 8 Gbps and upstream speeds up to 1.5 Gbps. It uses a DOCSIS 4.0 modem but can continue to rely on DOCSIS 3.1 equipment in the provider’s network, making it less costly to deploy in comparison with DOCSIS 4.0.

Midco started out as a cable TV provider but has expanded into broadband and fiber. The company now serves parts of five states in the central U.S. The company focuses on Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets.

Like other cable broadband providers, the company has a large base of hybrid fiber coax (HFC) infrastructure. The company has begun to replace it with fiber broadband in select areas, but sees DOCSIS 3.1 Extended as a way of extending the life of its HFC infrastructure by enabling it to support higher speeds.

“You get the download speeds of DOCSIS 4.0 but not the upload speeds, which is a fair tradeoff,” Lo said. “You have to look at technologies that can incrementally [enable you to] stay competitive.”

What Is DOCSIS 3.1 Extended?

To use DOCSIS 3.1 Extended, Midco deployed distributed access architecture (DAA), will use IPTV to offer video and will deploy high splits, Lo explained. The company also will do a software upgrade to its cable modem termination system.

High splits increase the amount of spectrum within the coax portion of the network and dedicate a larger portion of the spectrum to upstream communications. Relatively low upstream speeds have caused cable companies to lose some business to fiber broadband providers offering symmetrical gigabit or multi-gigabit speeds.

Where Midco doesn’t expect to use DOCSIS 3.1 Extended, however, it will rely on mid-splits, rather than high splits.

Lo declined to reveal the vendor for Midco’s DOCSIS 3.1 Extended technology, but said there are several manufacturers from which to choose.

Fiber and Fixed Wireless

Midco is using fiber broadband for any greenfield deployments that it undertakes. Some of these deployments are in areas lacking high-speed broadband and are funded, in part, through state broadband programs.

Among the states where the company has received funding are South Dakota and Minnesota.

Paige Pearson Meyer, vice president of corporate communications for Midco, told Telecompetitor that because the company contributes 50% of project build costs, it has had considerable success in winning rural broadband funding. That’s a higher percentage than states typically require.

Midco also deploys fixed wireless in certain areas. As Lo and Meyer explained, it’s typically used for remote areas around a population center where the company already has wired broadband infrastructure.

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