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Comcast Ups Broadband Speed, For a Price

9 Jun, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The nation’s largest cable operator, Comcast Corp., June 9 said it would begin implementing so-called “wideband” Internet service for select customers in the Washington D.C. metro area.

The Philadelphia-based cable operator said it would offer two residential wideband options, including “Extreme 50” that allows for 50Mbps of download speed and 10Mbps of uploading speed for $99.95 per month. The “Ultra” option offers 22Mbps and 5 Mbps of download and upload speeds, respectively, for $62.95 per month.

Comcast said it would also automatically increase broadband speeds for most existing customers with the “Performance” tier (12Mbps download, 2Mbps upload) and “Performance Plus”, which offers 16Mbps download and 2Mbps upload.

“This new service will enable us to offer our customers even faster speeds and an entirely new realm of Internet innovation,” said Fred Graham, SVP of Comcast’s Beltway region, in a statement.

The proliferation of rich media video, including movies and TV shows in high definition has underlined a need for an accelerated Web-based delivery channel.

With the average U.S. broadband household receiving anywhere from 1Mbps to 3Mbps bandwidth, the ability to watch uninterrupted streams in 720p resolution, let alone 1080p, on a PC or HDTV is extremely limited, said Andy Parsons, SVP, industrial solutions business group, with Pioneer Electronics.

Parsons said a local cable provider offering 10Mbps bandwidth would have difficulty streaming content in 720p. A typical DSL connection offers 760Kbps (less than 1Mbps). He said streaming at 24 frames-per-second (or Blu-ray quality) becomes even more problematic at lower bit rates.

Comcast said it would conclude rollout of the expanded service in Washington, D.C. area by the end of the year.

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