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By: MarkJ - 9 November, 2010 (7:21 AM)
netherlands mapWe rarely cover non-UK news but this one deserves a mention. A small Netherlands based cable operator (CAI Harderwijk) has used DOCSIS3 (DOCSIS 3.0) technology, which is similar to the EuroDOCSIS3 standard employed by Virgin Media in the UK, to demonstrate a symmetric 100Mbps broadband (same speed both ways) service.

At present the fastest Cable Modem speed offered by Virgin Media is 100Mbps download and 10Mbps upload, or at least it will be when the service goes live just before Christmas. Virgin Media is also running trials of 200Mbps download (via 4 bonded channels) and 20Mbps upload, although we probably won't see those speeds until approximately 2012.

The test itself is important because cable operators are still, perhaps unfairly, seen by some as inferior to fully fibre optic based Fibre-to-the-Home ( FTTH ) broadband services. In realty cable operators are, for the most part, continuing to keep pace. However, until now, upstream performance has been somewhat of a weak spot.

CAI Harderwijk itself is a tiny Dutch operator with over 16,000 subscribers (Source: Telecompaper) and was also the first cable company to voluntarily open up its network to third parties, which allowed rival ISP Solcon to participate in the new trial (first announced back in February 2010).

Suffice to say that the ability to push symmetric speeds of 100Mbps over DOCSIS3 is somewhat of a world first and gives us a better idea of where Virgin Media might be able to go in the future. There is perhaps a sad irony to all this though, which is that CAI Harderwijk already has plans to swap on to a FTTH platform, although that could now be delayed.

It is known that DOCSIS3 is theoretically able to reach a peak download speed of over 300Mbps (400Mbps+ with EuroDOCSIS3) and a little over 108Mbps for upload performance. However to achieve such speed requires a colossal amount of complicated channel bonding (8 just for the download speed and 4 for uploads). Never the less such developments bode well for the future of cable.
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