Comcast Expands 50 Mbps Wideband Service

Earlier this year, cable operator Comcast began offering 50 Mbps Internet service to customers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, and claimed that the new “wideband” offering would be available throughout its entire service area by the year 2010. Now the company is making its first steps in that direction, announcing an expansion of 50 Mbps service in selected markets.

According to Comcast, 50 Mbps service will go online part of New England (including the Boston metro area and southern New Hampshire), parts of Philadelphia, and New Jersey in the next few weeks. Over the next several months, Comcast says the service should be available in 10 major markets and be available to nearly 10 million homes and businesses.

“Wideband is a game-changer for the industry,” said Comcast Online Services senior VOP and general manager Mitch Bowling, in a statement. “With wideband running over our next-generation fiber-optic network, we can greatly enhance our customers’ online experience immediately.”

The bandwidth increases are the result of Comcast upgrading its fiber network to DOCSIS 3.0…and the company says the 50 Mbps tier is only the first step, and that speeds over 160 Gbps should be coming down the pipe.

The new “wideband” service comes in two tiers for residential customers: Ultra, a $62.95 per month version that offers 22 Mbps of downstream bandwidth and 5 Mbps of upstream bandwidth, and Extreme, which offers 50 Mbps of downstream bandwidth and 10 Mbps of upstream service. Both services require subscriptions to Comcast’s cable service.

On the business side, 50 Mbps service will cost $189.95 per month, and a new 22 Mbps Premium tier will be available for $99.95 per month.

Comcast is currently appealing an FCC sanction over the company’s network management practices, which used forged reset packets to shut down selected peer-to-peer file sharing transactions.

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