Word surfaced this week over on DSLReports that some Comcast subscribers are starting to see evidence of upstream channel bonding trials. Just like in the downstream, upstream bonding promises faster Internet speeds, this time for users who are uploading content online rather than downloading. (Think photo/video sharing and data back-ups.) After doing some investigating on my own, I dug out a few more details on the latest deployments. Here’s what I learned on the Comcast grapevine.
Comcast is aiming to bond four channels for better upstream speeds, but trials at the moment range from two, to three, to four channels bonded depending on network conditions. In theory, each extra channel increases throughput proportionally, so two bonded channels give roughly twice the throughput of one, three give roughly three times the throughput, etc., etc. According to what I’ve heard, Comcast is trying to deploy upstream channel bonding in as many places as it can in an effort to stay competitive over the next twelve months. The cable operator is planning to increase its standard upstream speeds from the 2-5 Mbps range today, to a range of 10-15 Mbps in the next year. Naturally, capacity is an issue as Comcast is also spending its bandwidth wealth on things like HD and VOD content. The MSO is going to have to do a lot of bandwidth balancing going forward.
According to DSLReports, users in Comcast trial areas today aren’t seeing significant speed increases in the upstream yet, but they are seeing more consistent speeds.
On a related note, Comcast is also demoing a 1 Gbps downstream connection out in Chicago at The Cable Show this week. Not that we’ll see that kind of speed from most of our home broadband connections any time soon, but at least Comcast can keep up with Google on the marketing front. It’s a flashback to the downstream speed wars of 2009.