July 12, 2005 11:54 AM PDT

Comcast revs up downloads

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Cable modem operator Comcast is bumping up the speeds at which its broadband subscribers can receive data.

The company announced Tuesday that it would increase the downstream speeds of its basic and premium residential broadband services. The basic service will jump to 6 megabits per second from 4mbps. The premium service will rise to 8mbps from 6mbps. Upstream, or data-sending, speeds will remain the same: 384kbps for the basic service, 768kbps for the premium.

Prices for the services will also remain the same. Customers of the basic plan will pay $42.95 when subscribing to a bundle that includes Comcast's video offering. The premium service will cost $52.95 when video is included in the package.

Comcast will begin upgrading the services to the higher speeds next week in eastern and central Pennsylvania, New England, New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan and Washington, D.C. It expects to complete the upgrades in all of its markets by the end of the summer. Upgrades will happen automatically, so customers aren't required to reboot their modems, said Jeanne Russo, a company spokeswoman.

At least two other cable providers have also recently upgraded speeds on their broadband offerings. Adelphia increased its download speed to 16mbps in its Northern Virginia territory, and Cox Communications increased its download speed to 15mbps in some of its territories. These speed increases seemed to be in response to Verizon's new Fios service, which uses fiber connections directly to people's homes and promises to allow for speeds of up to 30mbps.

Comcast, however, said its speed increase is not in response to new competition from Verizon, but rather is part of the company's regularly scheduled upgrades. Comcast has increased speeds on its network three times since October 2003.

"If (you) look at our history, we upgrade the speed of our network on a regular basis," Russo said. "Even at the 4mbps speed, we are faster than DSL."

Russo said Comcast plans to continue to add value for customers over the next 12 to 18 months by offering new services to those who subscribe to both its high-speed Internet and cable television services. The company will add remote recording capability through its Comcast.net portal to allow customers to record television shows on its digital video recorder. Comcast also plans to offer caller ID service for customers who subscribe to its high-speed data, television and phone services.

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Blah! Blah! Blah!
Big Deal.

Comcast?? Cox?? Cable operator of choice???

Who cares! The cable companies are bumping up the download throughput, still throttling the upload throughput and keeping the price the same. Over priced!

I need to access my home systems remotely. I need to be able to upload large files from my home systems to my remote systems and I shouldn't have to wait all day for the file to come across.

This whole notion of increasing the download bandwidth is a red herring. You are still constrained by the number of users in your network cell. Even if you were in a cell by yourself, you can only download data as fast as the upload speed of the server you're downloading from, which is typically throttled on a per connection basis so that the total bandwidth isn't hogged up by one downloader.

The only way I can get symetric bandwidth above 1Mb right now is by getting T1(DS1) "business" service ($500+/mo) and going through a telephone company. Oh sure, you can also get it through the cable company, but guess what? The cable company provides that service, but they go through the telephone company too. Why have the cable company as a middle man? Then you have two layers of incompetent unresponsive crappy service instead of one.

I can't even go with DSL because I'm too far away from the telephone central office. The best DSL speed I can get is 144Mb.

Cable Companies? You want to do something novel? Start providing high speed semetric bandwidth. You have the technology. If you offered the service for a reasonable price, I'm sure there is a market. Otherwise, you're just flapping your yap.
Posted by (63 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yay...
Im a little mixed on this, because Comcast over charges people in the puget sound area, yet I get very good speeds (slightly faster than 4 mb ATM)
Its 45.95 a month here in Seattle... Qwest DSL doesnt really offer them any DSL competition.
Posted by wazzledoozle (288 comments )
Reply Link Flag
News Flash...
... Qwest is so hosed up that it can't even compete with itself
without losing. Everyone should do everything possible to avoid
Qwest services in any area, and specifically their overpricesd and
grossly underperforming DSL service.

Qwest is a perfect example why AT&T should never have been
broken up in the first place.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Who cares?
The move only emphasizes the inferior upload speeds.

Comcast just doesn't get it. The "killer-app" for broadband is upload. The unequall speeds presumes that the user intends to listen to, but not join in the conversation enabled by the Internet.

You want to exchange videos of the kids with friends and family, do it at 300K, you want to download the trailer for Gigli, you get 6Mbs. How long until some provider gets with the program? How long until people are hosting their own blogs on their own home computers -- with video and music of their own design.

There are several open-source projects out there aiming to combine RSS feeds and P2P into a do-it-yourself multimedia broadcast network -- complete with channels, subscriptions, TiVo-like functionality, etc. Clearly the demand and the capability are there -- will anyone cash-in?
Posted by Gleeplewinky (289 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Host own blog?
"How long until people are hosting their own blogs..." They don't want people hosting servers. Eats too much bandwidth. What's more, people can't even keep their machines secure when they aren't servers. I'd hate to see scores of unsecured Windows servers on any cable network.
Posted by (10 comments )
Link Flag
prices are sky high now
It may be $29.95 or something for first 6 months but after that when I've looked up the prices, it's $60 monthly. That's a huge price increase! I think they only offer the 8mbps downstream, don't they offer a 3mbps downstream speed for a lower price for around $30?
Posted by pentium4forever (192 comments )
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