Cox decides 300 megabits is enough for now. Mari Sibley asked the right questions and got a major story. Until recently, it appeared almost all the cable companies would offer gigabit DOCSIS 3.1 to most subscribers, making a gig available to almost 90% of the U.S. very quickly. Almost half were due to be covered by the end of this year. Many more would come in 2018, when Comcast promised to cover all of their ~40% of the U.S. Cox, #3 in the U.S. with 6M customers, had initially promised to offer a gig to all of them by the end of last year. They've backed off, VP Philip Nutsugah tells Sibley, without revealing the motivation. Comcast, as far as I know, is still going rapidly on gigification with availability to about 40% of the U.S. still scheduled for the end of next year.
Comcast hasn't encountered major technical problems, so that's not the likely explanation.
A possible explanation is that Cox simply decided to slow down to reduce spending. It's a private company, so I can't do a financial analysis. But there are other intriguing possibilities.
- Cox might be deploying a new generation of DOCSIS equipment and didn't want to upgrade the previous one. "Nutsugah says that about a third of Cox's new CCAPs should be installed by the end of 2017." That's plausible because cable has made major strides recently and Cox may be planning ahead for full duplex upstream.
- Cox already offers 100 and 300 megabit downloads and didn't think many customers wanted more than 300 megabits. I can't think of much use for more than 300 meg, myself. I'd love more upstream but the cable guys seem willing to wait five years for full duplex.
- Cox may be slowing down because they are seriously entertaining the rumored takeover bid from Charter/Spectrum. Claire Atkinson, who consistently proves accurate, reports, "Tom Rutledge is eyeing family-owned Cox despite the fact that the latter has repeatedly rejected overtures from larger rivals." Based on the $18B Altice overpaid for Cablevision or the $23B current market cap after the IPO, offers for Cox shold be around $35B. It would make sense to spend as little as possible pending a deal. AT&T/SBC discovered serious neglect from prior management after taking over Ameritech.
Antitrust approval of yet another big merger would not be the most absurd thing in D.C. these days.