I would imagine that they're eager to migrate customers off of classic, as I'm sure having to support two different TV services must be more costly than just one. And 10k new set tops probably isn't accurate, as many people have more than one tv
The cabinets have likely been upgraded for some time now, since they were upgraded for the rollout of Ultimate. Yeah, they are provisioned differently. Classic uses VDSL, and transports via ATM protocol (I know nothing about it haha) whereas Ultimate is VDSL2 which uses IP. All I know is that the classic technology is probably ancient by todays standards.
When we migrate someone, we have to remove some wire jumpers from the classic port and hook up new ones to the ultimate port, where the signal gets inserted onto the phone line. They aren't compatible, so that's why it goes down until the new service is up and running
Authorized Service Provider (Contractor) for MTS Allstream. Any views expressed are my own.