Monday, September 01, 2008

BPN 1207 UPC ready to fight fibre

Next month UPC will start to roll out a high speed cable internet subscription with 60Mbps download speed and 8 Mbps upload speed over coax cable. The subscription price will be 50 euro a month; most likely this does not include telephone and television. The subscribers will get a new modem based on the docsis 3.0 standard.

Presently UPC’s highest speed is the Internet Extreme package with a download speed of 24 Mbps and an upload speed of 2,5 Mbps for 60 euro. As a UPC subscriber I have at the moment an internet package of 10Mbps download and 1,5Mbps upload; the package is not advertised on the official site.

The news did not come as a surprise. Cable companies have been experimenting with faster coax speeds for some time and have been hiking the speeds gradually. Essent, now part of Ziggo, has done field trials with the Finish company Teleste in Boxmeer in 2006. All cable operators have continued trials, just to be ready for the introduction of the fibre projects in various urban areas such as Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Almere and Haarlem. UPC has trialed with the new docsis 3.0 modems in the past year and is now ready to commercialise the product starting with the 60Mbps download and 8Mbps upload speeds. In the trial with UPC clients the speeds have been tested and maintained up to 120Mbps download and 100Mbps upload, so a UPC engineer told me. It I claimed that the docsis 3.0 modem can handle speeds up to 160Mbpds download and 120Mbps upload.

The speeds are impressive for coax. Cable operators can now compete with the fibre packages offered by for example KPN. Presently KPN offers three packages, inspired on the Olympic Games: gold, silver and bronze. The top package has a 60 Mbps download speed and 6Mbps upload; silver has 50Mbps download and 5Mbps upload and bronze has 30Mbps download and 3Mbps upload. The packages ill cost respectively 110 euro, 80 euro and 65 euro, including television and telecom. The fibre pioneer Ons Net in Nuenen has a complex offer which basically boils down to a 100Mbps synchronous service for 44 euro a month with 8 IP addresses or 90 euro a month with 16 IP addresses. This is only for internet. On top of this a radio and television package will set the subscriber back for 13,95 euro a month, which is a common analogue cable tariff. And a basics telephone subscription will cost 9,49 euro a month.

With the commercialisation of the higher internet speeds UPC will closely follow the market. Presently there are many fibre glass projects in the Netherlands and in areas where UPC operates like Amsterdam and Almere. UPC has the advantage that it can wait for the new parties to have published their tariff packages and then move in. So while the fibre glass parties are digging holes fro the fibre and concepting new packages, the incumbent cable operators will be able to put an equal offer to the subscriber, who most likely could not care less about the network technology, whether it is cable or fibre. Eventually UPC will have to get it from its goodwill, helpdesk and price.

Blog Posting Number: 1207

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