updated 03:30 pm EDT, Wed October 22, 2008
Comcast DOCSIS 3 Expands
Comcast today officially launched and expanded its DOCSIS 3.0 service in a bid to compete against Verizon's FIOS and other very high-speed Internet connections. Originally available in a limited form just in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the now established Extreme 50 plan bonds cable channels together to reach downstream speeds of 50Mbps, or bandwidth three times faster than the provider's DOCSIS 2.0-era 16Mbps tier. The performance is high enough to make HD video feasible: a full 6GB movie can download in as little as 16 minutes.
Upload speeds have also been increased to about 10Mbps and allows for faster peer-to-peer gaming and other services where the user's network has to send large volumes of data to other users.
Monthly rates have dropped only slightly to $140 for the plan, which should now be available over the next few weeks in parts of New England area, including Boston, Philadelphia, and parts of New Hampshire and New Jersey.
In addition to expanding access to the 50Mbps service, the company is also adding an Ultra tier at $63 per month that boosts speeds in DOCSIS 3.0 areas to 22Mbps for downloads and 5Mbps for uploads. Users of the existing Performance and Performance Plus levels in those areas will also get automatic boosts to 12/2Mbps and 16/2Mbps respectively.
The shift comes as part of a larger strategy to eventually introduce DOCSIS 3.0 to all of Comcast's subscribers and has repeatedly been described as peaking as high as 160Mbps as the cable firm implements the full specification. However, these areas aren't described as having a bandwidth cap higher than the existing 250GB per month and should still be subject to the company's new priority throttling service, which temporarily slows down users in areas with excessive traffic by making data packets from very frequent users a secondary priority on the network.