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phillytechnews: New PTN Post: Time Warner Cable invests to build out fiber to some NYC businesses; What are Comcast's plans?

Time Warner Cable invests to build out fiber to some NYC businesses; What are Comcast's plans?

Tom Paine

Time Warner Cable's announcement this week that it would invest $25 million to provide fiber to the premise connectivity to selected business locations in parts of New York City generated some hype and inaccurate comparisons from those who compared it to Google's fiber buildout in Kansas City. Time Warner Cable's (TWC) announcment was somewhat vague, besides mentioning a few specific locations, in terms of how broad the coverage would be. And $25 million isn't a great deal of money when you consider a city with the telecommunications infrastructure of New York. Google Fiber's Kansas City project is planned to be residentially focused rather than aimed at businesses, and its investment there would reportedly be several hundred million dollars.

I had heard that Comcast had done a few small fiber buildouts such as this in some downtown areas, so I reached out to Comcast to ask about specifics. A company spokesperson responded by email: "Since 2011, we have been giving businesses more options for connectivity by bringing fiber into sections of cities that are becoming high-tech hubs". Specifically mentioned were a project with the city of Seattle to bring broadband to its Pioneer Square area, a similar partnership with Boston for its "Innovation District", and another arrangement for downtown San Mateo, CA. I'm not certain about the precise network architecture Comcast is using in these areas; it says it offers speeds of up to 100/10 Mbps which I believe can be delivered through its usual fiber optic-coaxial hybrid using Docsis 3.0, but also can provide speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second for heavy users. The latter would preumably require a direct fiber connection to the building.

Comcast says it will "continue looking for more places to expand – giving more businesses more options for affordable high-speed connectivity - but at this time has nothing specific to announce". There was no information available on any plans for Philadelphia.

Of course, in both New York City and Philadelphia the cable operators may face competition from Verizon's FiOS, although the buildouts in both locations are preceding at a snail's pace (but its much further along in New York.) Google Fiber says it will offer symmetrical 1 Gbps connections to individual residences for $70 a month (after an up front fee). Time Warner Cable says its service "enables businesses to be connected to a dedicated Internet network that provides speeds that reach 1 gigabyte per second and faster". although its not clear whether that kind of speed would reach every tenant in a large multi-tenant facility such as the Empire State Building, one of the facilities TWC named as having been recently wired.

Both TWC and Comcast have rapidly growing business telecom services segments. In its most recent earnings report released early this month, Comcast said its Business Services revenue increased 34 percent to $582 million.