Suddenlink announced today they have launched a cable broadband service with max speeds of 107 Mbps. “Based on our research, we believe this residential download speed to be the fastest available in the U.S. today,” said Suddenlink CEO Jerry Kent. The DOCSIS 3.0 (D3) powered service is being offered in communities outside of Austin, Tx, with plans to launch in a “number of other communities this year.”
Combine Suddenlink’s new broadband prowess with Mediacom’s launch of a 105 Mbps service in Iowa recently and you find that rural cable MSOs are now offering the fastest broadband speeds in the country. It’s somewhat of an unexpected development. Usually, these advanced technologies trickle down from national cable providers to their rural brethren. And while large national providers are offering D3 services, a select number of rural cable MSOs are upping the ante with respect to broadband speeds. Other rural cable providers offering DOCSIS 3.0 include Midcontinent, Bend Broadband, Sunflower Broadband, and Armstrong.
We can certainly argue whether these 100 Mbps broadband tiers are more about marketing hype than a real competitive threat in the marketplace. Most customers have no need for such speeds (nor can they afford them), and they are the top end burst speeds, not the average speeds. But I do believe these developments are noteworthy. They signal these rural cable providers’ intentions to try to create competitive advantage with robust broadband capabilities. While these early announcements may not grab market share, they do lay the foundation for tough battles ahead for these service provider’s competitors.
Broadband is quickly becoming ‘local service,’ if it hasn’t already for some. Ensuring your broadband is the ‘best and baddest’ option in your market is important. These cable MSOs are attempting to build that perception. It’s also important to note that the 100+ Mbps speeds get all the attention, but these upgrades also bring better 20 and 50 Mbps tiers, which compete quite well against DSL.
As for Suddenlink, this new development is part of a $350 million initiative labeled ‘Project Imagine.’ “Through ‘Project Imagine,’ the company aims to expand to substantially all Suddenlink communities: video-on-demand service; the capability for up to 200 high-definition (HD) TV channels; and industry-leading DOCSIS 3.0 technology, which enables Internet download speeds of 20, 50, and more than 100 Mbps,” says Suddenlink in a press release.