Videotron tests wideband products to boost network speeds

Videotron on Thursday said it will be able to offer its customers five times faster Internet service than its current high-speed offering through the use of wideband technology.

The Montreal-based service provider announced the results of a pilot test conducted last month using equipment from Cisco Systems of Canada. The company said it plans to continue testing over the next few months but will likely offer a new package based on wideband to be introduced later this year. The two firms said they expected to reach 100 Mbps by running the wideband technology over Videotron’s existing IP network. 

Pierre Roy, Videotron’s vice-president of engineering, IP technology, said the project started about 18 months ago when the service provider approached Cisco about ways it would deploy additional capacity and plan for future growth.

The Cisco Wideband Solution is based on edge quadrature amplitude modulators (QAMs) and cable modems together with its uBR10012 cable modem termination system (CMTS). The technology is based on a technique whereby multiple channels of hybrid fibre coaxial (HFC) and are bound to appear like one fat pipe. This is designed to boost throughput performance compared to existing downstream speeds. At the receiving site, the cable modem reassembles the packets.

In Videotron’s case, the work involved upgrading software on its router, installing a new card and crown modulator before allowing service activation and installation on an existing cable drop, Roy said.

“This is something that can enable us to deliver (to) the customer bigger pipes,” he said. “We’ve tested with multiple channels and it really works great.” 

Surya Panditi, vice-president and general manager of Cisco’s optical technology and CMTS unit, said Videotron is among the first service providers to shift from merely offering access services to becoming what he called an “experience provider.” He said video would be the key application to justify its wideband investment.

“People started out with video as a passive experience. The service provider gave one service and the user was able to sit in a chair and watch a particular channel,” he said. “From there, the service provider offered aggregation, choosing to watch a video or to have a menu providing video on demand. Now we’re starting to see the consumer as producer, someone who is empowered to choose services like video content and share it as well.”

Roy said the biggest benefit so far has been Videotron’s ability to set up and test the wideband technology over its existing HFC.

“The feedback has been great,” he said. “All this integration went without issue.” 

Cisco and Videotron demonstrated the service in Montreal, transferring a 250MB video file at a speed of 50 Mbps, which took around 40-45 seconds, executives said.


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