Cablevision wowed us all earlier this week when it announced that it would be offering a 101 Mbps cable internet service to its customers starting May 11 for $100 a month.
Even more impressive, perhaps, is word that its 101 Mbps would be uncapped – particularly given how cable providers such as Time Warner Cable (and even smaller ISPs like Sunflower Broadband) are all about restrictions.
Verizon isn’t convinced by Cablevision’s claims of speed, however. Verizon’s PR man Eric Rabe wrote in the company’s policy blog and post skeptical of Cablevision’s service promise.
“With today’s technology, you don’t have to break much of a sweat to deliver 100 Mbps to a few customers,” Rabe wrote. “But given the inherent limits of the cable platform, a cluster of bandwidth junkies living near each other could be a real problem. One estimate is that a single 101 Mbps customer would use some 60% of the capacity in a neighborhood. Other users? Outta luck.”
“What happens when a customer with that speed hits the much slower Internet?” Rabe posed. “So Cablevision is offering very high speed service to a very limited number of customers when there is little evidence of market demand for the speed. It is a parlor trick.”
Rabe goes on to say that a fiber optic is the future of networking – which few will contest – but also points out that many parts of the internet are still connected together at speeds slower than 100 Mbps, saying that is why customers aren’t demanding speeds in the 100 Mbps range today.
“For now, CVC’s leap to 101 Mbps is about market positioning and bragging rights rather than delivering a useful service to a mass customer market,” Rabe said.
In the end though, Rabe realizes that competition such as this is good for the consumer, as he adds, “Competition is a key innovation driver, so in that sense FiOS along with CVC's product and the ultra-high-speed services of others, have the potential to spur the entire industry to breed new ideas at all levels…applications, content, information as well as transport.”
As I said before though, the 101Mbps connection is *inherently* flawed. Think about it. What do most people connect with? From what I can tell, laptops sell the most and these come with 802.11G, a 54Mbps connection. How the heck are you going to get the 101Mbps connection to the Internet if you're only getting 54Mbps within your house? Even worse, I have yet to see traffic over WiFi reach more than ~50%, or about 25-30Mbps.
Let's suppose for a moment that you do use this on a desktop with a wired connection to a router. Your router, unless homebuilt with GbE ports, is going to run with 100Mbps cards. And these rarely are capable of handling more than 85-90% throughput, limiting you to 85-90Mbps even in this scenario.
So, its with this in mind that I propose the only way to utilize a 101Mbps connection is with a homebuild router (Linux is particularly well suited to this, ClarkConnect for example is what I use), with two or more Gigabit ports, and a Gigabit switch. But this is *only* if the modems Cablevision has include Gigabit ports themselves. If not, you'll never ever see more than 90Mbps out of this, which is inherently flawed and should be criticized. They could just as easily market it as a 1Gbps connection, as long as it has a 100BaseT port on the modem, you'll never see more than 90Mbps.
Finally, consider the price. At $100/mo, this is essentially twice as expensive as any other standard cable service. I have Comcast, and get a 16Mbps connection. For this price, I would expect that the nodes have half as many clients as Comcast. This would at a minimum ensure 32Mbps operation, assuming that Cablevision's nodes are as capable as Comcast's.
BTW... cable nodes feed into fiber. The actual medium doesn't make a difference, what Verizon was trying to argue against is the topology of cable, which as I said to start with is the same old argument they've had for years. Thus far, I have yet to see my neighbors impact my speeds at any time in the last 8 years so I have serious personal doubts about the validity of such an argument. I would, however, grab FiOS in a heartbeat due to the faster speeds and lack of a data cap (not that I use more than 250GB/mo, simply that I do not support restricted accounts).