User reports suggest Comcast is increasing upstream channel bonding activity

A user forum on DSLReports shows increased activity in the last month around upstream channel bonding in several Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) markets. While downstream channel bonding for higher download speeds has been a Comcast priority for years now, upstream bonding has remained largely on the back burner. Although the nation's largest cable operator has been testing upstream bonding since at least 2010, deployments only began in 2011. A review of a related discussion thread on DSLReports indicates that rollouts may be happening faster now in several parts of the country including California, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

A recent study rated Comcast as the fastest Internet service provider in the U.S. However, compared to Verizon (NYSE: VZ) FiOS, the MSO's upstream speeds are severely limited. Verizon offers standard Internet packages with upstream speeds of 20 and 35 Mbps. In comparison, Comcast tends to top out at 5 or 10 Mbps in the upstream.

Channel bonding doesn't do anything to increase overall upstream capacity, but it does combine several channels to boost peak upstream speeds. Cable had to start paying more attention to its upstream when Verizon rolled out its fiber-to-the-home networks and began promising symmetrical speed tiers. To date, Comcast still advertises its Internet packages with an emphasis on the downstream, but the cable company knows it will soon have to compete on upstream speeds as well.  

Among applications that will have consumers demanding higher upstream throughput, video conferencing and home monitoring services are likely at the top of the list. Comcast has an interest in both areas, and recently expanded its Xfinity Home service for home monitoring and automation to new markets.

Posts on DSLReports show that Comcast is currently bonding two, three and four upstream channels in different locations. Evidence has also surfaced since last November that the MSO is beginning to bond up to eight channels in the downstream.

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