Earlier this week, Cablevision announced Optimum Online Ultra, a new high-speed Internet product that uses the DOCSIS 3.0 standard to deliver speeds up to 101 Mbps. This is very exciting news, especially when you connect this announcement to the cable operators who have deployed wideband service over the past year – Comcast, Charter and Cox – and those that are planning to deploy in 2009.
And that might be all there is to say about it, but there was a little twist. Our friends over at Verizon seemed really unhappy about the launch. Was it the 101 Mbps that bothered them or the $99 monthly price? At any rate, take a look at this odd post on the Verizon Policy blog.
Besides arguing against the business model for their own FiOS deployment, you’ll note that one of their key complaints is that Cablevision’s 101 Mbps is a “parlor trick” because “there is little evidence of market demand for the speed.” This echoes a PCMag.com argument (referenced in this blog post) that higher speeds are unnecessary: “…no average consumer is going to pony up almost $100 for home broadband service—regardless of speed.”
Now, I’m a little confused here. I seem to remember all these arguments over the past couple years (sarcasm alert) about how horrible it was that consumers in Europe and Asia had so much more bandwidth, while we Americans had to struggle along with our anemic speeds. And now we’re told, “Bah, who really needs that much bandwidth?”
Secondly, Verizon pulls out the long-disproven accusation that cable broadband service is shared bandwidth and so it’s not real. Well, I hate to break it to the fine folks at Verizon, but all bandwidth is shared at some point, even at FiOS. Yes, cable broadband is engineered differently than FiOS is. Cable started deploying modem service about 15 years ago and the intention was always that customers would share bandwidth off a node, but that nodes could be split as needs increased.
Verizon issues a clarion call against “parlor tricks.” Here’s a neat trick for you: If you’re a FiOS customer, with its “all-fiber” service, take a look at the back of your TV or at your modem. You’ll find a piece of coaxial cable, making it a hybrid fiber-coax system. So, wasn’t “fiber optics right to the door, true QAM” a bit of marketing? Especially in light of the fact that cable has generally built its broadband customer base and high penetrations while offering its best services and fastest speeds to the homes passed by its network, while Verizon focuses attention on FiOS’ fast speeds but still offers copper-based DSL service across most of its footprint.
Add the fact that Verizon says that Cablevision “claims” they deployed the service across their footprint (when a Cablevision spokesman confirmed that the service will be available across their service area on May 11) and you get the idea.
But this is competition in action. When Verizon thought they had the edge, they bragged pretty loudly. Some blogs, such as GigaOM and CrunchGear, noted that Verizon seems to be protesting a little too much this time.