updated 09:45 am EDT, Tue April 28, 2009
101Mbps Optimum Online Ult
Cablevision on Tuesday claimed the title of the fastest cable Internet provider in the US by launching Optimum Online Ultra. By using the newer multi-channel DOCSIS 3.0 standard, the carrier promises a peak of 101Mbps downstream and a still-fast 15Mbps upstream. The service is theoretically twice as fast as Comcast's 50Mbps service and won't have a bandwidth cap, permitting as much use of the service as customers like. An HD video can download in roughly 10 minutes on the network, while a batch of 750 photos can upload in the space of a minute.
Ultra will cost $99 per month and should launch May 11th, focusing primarily on the Long Island area. It's not mentioned how soon all of Cablevision's customers will have access to the faster speeds, but the company does say that it has doubled the upstream speeds for its free-with-service Wi-Fi hotspots to 3Mbps.
The rollout marks a sharp contrast to the behavior of ostensible rivals Comcast and Time Warner, neither of whom operates directly in Cablevision's markets but which run much more restricted speeds and bandwidth allotments. Comcast has set a 250GB fixed cap regardless of peak speeds; most Time Warner areas are unlimited, but the company has been running trials for metered broadband that would charge $150 for unlimited 10Mbps access, or nearly 3 times as much as it does today; it has put a hold on expanding the trials but has also threatened to pull DOCSIS 3.0 trials as punishment for those areas not accepting its policies at face value.
Cablevision has long used very high speed Internet access as a selling point and notes that it has 75 percent of the market in those areas it serves, leaving just 25 percent to DSL or alternatives. Critics have accused other North American cable providers of using caps to unfairly protect their cable TV businesses by discouraging even legitimate TV and movie downloads. On Time Warner's proposed typical 60GB monthly limit, a customer could watch only 6 iTunes HD movies assuming no other Internet activity.