Comcast tells us that the cable giant has started offering 50Mbps/5Mbps broadband service for $150 a month in certain parts of the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The faster speeds are thanks to Comcast's first deployment of pre-certification DOCSIS 3.0 gear provided by Cisco.
Comcast has been tight-lipped about their deployment of 100Mbps+ capable DOCSIS 3.0 gear, other than to say they'd be deploying it to 20% of their footprint by the end of the year. Industry analyst Dave Burstein recently claimed the company told him they'd be offering 50Mbps to half of their customers by the end of 2009, something the cable operator denied
The tune has changed. Comcast is today for the first time saying they'll offer Wideband (Cisco's name for downstream channel bonded pre-cert DOCSIS 3.0 gear) to 100% of their customers by the middle of 2010. Faster upstream speeds won't be coming along for the ride just yet, given that upstream channel bonding hasn't been perfected yet
ahead of DOCSIS 3.0's road toward full specification.
"This announcement marks the beginning of the evolution from broadband to wideband," said Mitch Bowling, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Comcast High-Speed Internet said in a prepared statement. "Wideband is the future and it’s coming fast. We believe wideband will usher-in a new era of speed and Internet innovation for today’s digital consumers."
Technically, DOCSIS 3.0 isn't coming all that
fast. Comcast's 20% 2008 deployment plan leads the industry, with most cable providers waiting to see how consumers react to the faster speeds. According to Comcast, they'll offer 100Mbps in time if they see a demand for it. Verizon is currently conducting 100Mbps trials with company employees, but has admitted that such speeds are little more than marketing fodder
at the moment.
Some good news for customers in the twin-cities who don't want to pay $150 or don't need the extra downstream speed: Comcast says customers on their 6Mbps tier will see upstream speed bumps to 1Mbps at no cost, while 8Mbps downstream customers will see their upstream speeds bumped to 2Mbps. That may actually be the more exciting news for customers eager for more upstream bandwidth.
We'd assume additional 50Mbps markets should start popping up on the map shortly. Comcast's South Florida market apparently didn't get a PR coordination memo last month, and announced
out of the blue they were in the middle of DOCSIS 3.0 upgrades.