80% of American homes can receive a gigabit downstream from the cable company. Comcast announced they can reach 58 million locations with gigabit DOCSIS, almost their entire network. Charter, with almost as large a network, and #3, Cox, are also nearly all gigabit enabled. Customers are responding to the speed: in Q2, U.S. cable added about 585,000 subscribers while telcos lost about 130,000.
Similarly, Rogers in Canada offers a gigabit to all 4 million customers. They just reported their best quarter in years.
Cable wireless in the U.S. will be "humongous," a guy building the networks tells me. With fiber and power very close to most Americans, they will put small cells - 4G & 5G - almost everywhere. To match the Verizon & AT&T 5G nominal latency, DOCSIS latency needs to be < 10 ms. John Chapman at Cisco and Jennifer Andreoli-Fang at CableLabs have demonstrated a solution, DOCSIS pipelining. (Test pictured.)
Chapman tells me Full Duplex upstream is ready to come out of the labs. He expects wide deployments to begin in 2020. Speeds could reach a gigabit. Comcast and Charter are readying their networks.
Full Duplex requires a significant hardware investment, putting "remote phys" close to subscriber homes. It will take years to become dominant, during which telcos can attack with faster upstreams. Verizon is already advertising the higher upstream speeds as a weapon against cable. Telefonica and Orange could do that in Spain and France.
While U.S. and Canadian cable has a very strong position, the Europeans are underinvesting. Vodafone, the largest, rarely has upgraded to the gigabit. I took a look at Vodafone financials, which are much worse than I realized. It lost €8 billion in the last three years, lost mobile customers in Europe, and cut capex by 30%. BNP Paribas believes the current dividend is "unsustainable" but management refuses to see it that way.
Vodafone is hurting badly in Spain, mostly fibered. England and Germany are (finally) moving to fiber. It must find the money to upgrade but management is instead holding back in hopes of keeping the stock price up.