Unitymedia rolls out DOCSIS 3.0

By Robert Briel
October 21, 2009

In November, German cabler Unitymedia will roll out 120 Mbps DOCSIS 3.0 broadband access in the cities of Cologne and Aachen as part of a new high speed flat-rate triple play offer. Pricing will be set closer to launch.

The move will put the operator in pole position in the race with DSL providers offering speeds up to twice that of VDSL technology. As in other European countries, cable now has taken a lead with broadband access technologies with theoretical speeds up to 400 Mbps possible.

At the moment, Unitymedia offers 20 Mbps as its standard broadband product. “People have been asking 120 Mbps, who needs it,” said Parm Sandhu, CEO Unitymedia, “This is a question we have been hearing since we started building our broadband network. But just think back a few years ago, when most people were still dialing up with 56 Kbps, we introduced 2 Mbps. And when we introduced 20 Mbps in 2007 people said – are you crazy? Who needs 20 Mbps? And that was just two years ago.”

The cities of Cologne and Aachen are the first to get the new speeds. Cologne because this is where the operator is based and Aachen because the city only had access to triple play services since December 2008. Last year Unitymedia acquired the network, “this was the only major city missing in our footprint.” The operator serves the states of Northrhine-Westphalia and Hesse and passes 8.7 million homes.

The past few years, Unitymedia has invested over 300 million euros in upgrading its networks to be fully 2-way capable with now 88% of all homes passed upgraded. This figure will rise to 90% by the end of the year.

At the moment, the operator is upgrading its networks in smaller and rural communities as part of the Digitla Initiative in the state of Northrhine-Westphalia, said Colin Büchner, SVP Operations and Technology. A total of 99 communities will have fast broadband access and full triple play services including over 400 digital TV channels as well as 35 analogue TV channels and 40 analogue radio stations.