Altice trots out DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades for cable subs in 3 states

Altice USA’s Optimum West cable footprint is getting a facelift, as the operator rolls out DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades and a new 1-gig service option there to better compete with rivals. So far this year, upgrades have covered markets in three states and by the end of 2023 Altice said it’s hoping to reach 200,000 additional passings with updates.

Altice USA serves a total of 21 states. Its Optimum East territory comprises the New York tri-state area, including New Jersey and Connecticut. Everything else falls into the Optimum West bucket.

Since March, Altice has announced 1-gig upgrades in Louisiana, North Carolina and Texas, with the former getting the most attention. Specific markets include Calcasieu Parish, East Hodge, Fort Polk, Hodge, Iowa, Jefferson Davis Parish, Jonesboro, Leesville, New Llano, North Hodge, Quitman and Vernon, Louisiana; Breckenridge and Lake Hubbard, Texas; and Enfield and Scotland Neck, North Carolina.

An Altice USA spokesperson told Fierce “while each upgrade is unique to its specific market, the majority in the West are DOCSIS 3.1 upgrades over our HFC network.” The representative added additional upgrade announcements will follow over the coming weeks and months.

It has also undertaken cable updates in Oklahoma and West Virginia, though those upgrades have only delivered top speeds of 400 Mbps. As of Q4 2022, Altice had upgraded 86% of its West footprint to DOCSIS 3.1.

All of Altice’s Optimum East cable footprint has already been upgraded to DOCSIS 3.1 and the operator has turned its attention to deploying fiber there.

Though Altice’s new CEO Dennis Mathew has said the operator doesn’t plan to pursue DOCSIS 4.0 upgrades, it should theoretically have some runway left with DOCSIS 3.1. According to CableLabs, the technology is capable of delivering peak downstream capacity of 10 Gbps and peak upload speeds of 1-2 Gbps. That compares to the 10Gbps/6Gbps mix available with DOCSIS 4.0.

On the operator’s Q1 2023 earnings call, Mathew said “Our tactics in the West are working. The last three out of five months, we have been positive” when it comes to broadband adds there. His statement is notable given Altice has been bleeding non-fiber broadband subs in recent quarters. In Q1 2023, for example, it added 38,000 fiber customers but ended up with a net loss of 19,000 broadband subscribers due to such losses.

One reason for fiber’s strength could be the speeds offered. The operator currently provides tiers of up to 5 Gbps for fiber customers in its Optimum East footprint and is planning the launch of an 8-gig tier later this year.