Surprise: TWC wants to build a 1Gbps fiber network after Los Angeles threatens to build its own

TWC Fiber Network Los Angeles

Gee, it’s amazing how quickly Time Warner Cable will change its mind about the usefulness of 1Gbps fiber networks as soon as a major city like Los Angeles says it wants to built its own fiber network that could potentially kick incumbent cable providers to the curb. Time Warner Cable on Friday issued a response to Los Angeles’s request for input on the best way to develop a community-wide fiber network that’s capable of blowing anything TWC currently offers out of the water. Unsurprisingly, TWC said that it would just love to help Tinsel Town build its own fiber network.

“We believe the introduction of consumer gigabit speeds in our near future will facilitate even greater innovations among students, entrepreneurs and many industries powering the Los Angeles economy,” said Dinni Jain, chief operating officer at TWC. “Cable was the first to bring broadband Internet to the masses nearly 20 years ago, and thanks to the dynamic nature of our fiber-rich network, we foresee endless new possibilities as we roll-out gigabit speeds to all of Los Angeles,”

This is really quite the change of heart for Time Warner Cable over a relatively short period of time. Just this past February, for instance, a TWC spokesperson said that “not everybody needs that type of capacity that a direct fiber network would provide” when explaining its reluctance to upgrade its footprint to fiber.

And this wasn’t just a one-time gaffe either — one year earlier, a TWC exec said that “we just don’t see the need of delivering” Google Fiber-type speeds to its customers. Let’s also not forget that the cable industry as a whole has long been dismissive of the need to really spend money on major infrastructure upgrades to fiber — National Cable & Telecommunications Association CEO Michael Powell less than two years ago described achieving gigabit speeds as an “irrelevant exercise in bragging rights.”

Now that some cities are officially getting fed up with their local cable companies and threatening to build their own fiber networks, it’s put big incumbents like Comcast and TWC in a tough spot. They broadly speaking have two options — they can either lobby state governments to slap onerous restrictions on community fiber projects or, if that’s not an option, they can reluctantly decide that they should maybe start investing in networks with faster speeds.

We’ve already seen TWC do this in Austin, Texas where it started offering services that deliver speeds of up to 300Mbps once it started facing stronger private sector competition from both Google Fiber and AT&T.

Regardless of whether the pressure comes from rival companies or from local governments fed up with inferior service, we’re always happy to see someone light a fire under TWC’s rear end.

The company’s full press release follows below.

Time Warner Cable’s All-Digital Transformation in 2014 Sets Foundation for ‘Gigasphere’ – Bringing One Gigabit-Per-Second Internet Speeds to Los Angeles Residents

Company responds to City of Los Angeles’ request for information regarding Community Broadband Network enabling gigabit-per-second speeds

LOS ANGELES – July 18, 2014 – Time Warner Cable (TWC) today announced the company is participating in the City of Los Angeles’ request for information (RFI) process for the development of a communitywide broadband network that delivers gigabit-capable, high-speed, high-quality and affordable broadband connections to residences, businesses and city government.

TWC’s response includes detailed information on its current and future network and product enhancements that will enable Time Warner Cable to deliver gigabit-per-second speeds for consumers in Los Angeles across TWC’s existing network that already spans the city and neighboring communities.

“Over the last four years, Time Warner Cable has invested more than $1.5 billion to enhance our infrastructure and services in Los Angeles. This significant investment coupled with new ‘Gigasphere’ technology positions us to be able to introduce gigabit-per-second speeds in 2016,” said Peter Stern, executive vice president and chief strategy, people and corporate development officer at TWC.  “Leveraging our existing network allows us to deliver these speeds faster and with less disruption than any other provider.”

The company’s infrastructure improvements, which leverages its existing hybrid fiber-coax network already deployed across the city enables TWC to quickly adopt and roll-out new technologies designed to bring gigabit-per-second speeds to consumers in the near future.  The technical standard in development at CableLabs®, a cable technology consortium, is named Gigasphere, also known as DOCSIS 3.1, and is expected to be ready for initial pilots in 2015.

“As the new standard is certified and equipment manufacturers deliver new hardware and modems, our Los Angeles system will be prepared to begin deployment of gigabit speeds to consumers,” added Stern.  “We can quickly adopt the new DOCSIS 3.1 standards and deliver gigabit speeds for consumers across our entire Los Angeles footprint, not just select neighborhoods and communities.”

Highlights from TWC’s response to the RFI include:

  • Detailed information on “TWC Maxx,” which includes the current network upgrades across the LA region.  These investments have allowed Time Warner Cable to deliver up to 300 megabit-per-second (Mbps) Internet connections to hundreds of thousands of LA region customers already and improve network reliability.  TWC plans to complete the enhancements for all remaining customers in its LA service area by the end of the year.
  • Progress on the company’s network transformation to “all-digital” in Los Angeles, which replaces bandwidth-intensive analog video channels with much greater digital capacity, which positions TWC to deploy new services and faster Internet speeds.
  • Catalog of all TWC’s current fiber-based broadband and Ethernet solutions that already serve businesses as well as government and academic facilities with multi-gigabit speed connections.
  • Details on TWC’s continuing deployment of TWC WiFi® public hotspots blanketing the city and are free to the majority of TWC Internet subscribers.

“We believe the introduction of consumer gigabit speeds in our near future will facilitate even greater innovations among students, entrepreneurs and many industries powering the Los Angeles economy,” said Dinni Jain, chief operating officer at TWC. “Cable was the first to bring broadband Internet to the masses nearly 20 years ago, and thanks to the dynamic nature of our fiber-rich network, we foresee endless new possibilities as we roll-out gigabit speeds to all of Los Angeles.”

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