At the International Broadcasting Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam this week, Texas Instruments announced a chip for cable operators that allows eight downstream and four upstream DOCSIS 3.0 channels to be bonded together for a maximum of 320Mbps down and 160Mbps up. Compare that to today's situation, where most cable subscribers get less than 10Mbps down, and most cable operators are contemplating providing no more than 50 to 100Mbps down maximum.
I don't seriously believe that we'll see 320Mbps in the foreseeable future, but this capability will become a weapon in the arsenal of cable operators. The fundamental advantage that Verizon's FiOS service has over cable offerings is the inherent bandwidth of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH); DOCSIS 3.0 bonding is keeping cable operators in the contest. Switched digital video (SDV) and Cable IPTV will enable cable operators to utilize their available bandwidth even more efficiently. The result is that cable operators and telcos may end up competing on a level playing field, so far as bandwidth is concerned.