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The Twin Cities are the lucky guinea pigs for Comcast's new high-speed internet

Verizon's FiOS fiber broadband connection is currently the only option for United States Internet surfers to wander about the world wide web while downloading content at up to 50 Mbps and uploading data at up to 20 Mbps. However, Verizon's FiOS service is limited to a few areas at this time, even though roll-out is being performed slowly but surely.

Recently, Comcast also announced plans to increase the maximum bandwidth of its broadband service to 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload bandwidth to compete with Verizon.

Currently, Comcast is running its broadband service aalong the DOCSIS 2.0 protocol, or the second generation of the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications. This protocol tops out with a maximum downstream bandwidth of 42.88 Mbps while the maximum upstream bandwidth tops out at 30.72 Mbps.

For Comcast to increase its bandwidth, it will have to begin using DOCSIS 3.0 compliant hardware. The initial DOCSIS 3.0 specs will utilize four channels over cable; which allows the compatible hardware to serve twice the amount of data per second than DOCSIS 2.0's dual channel design.

Through the 4-channel design, DOCSIS 3.0 compliant hardware will allow a maximum of 170 Mbps and 123 Mbps downstream and upstream bandwidth respectively. To achieve this higher bandwidth, Comcast must upgrade its back-end infrastructure to to hardware complaint with DOCSIS 3.0 and must also provide upgrades to customers' leased modems or offer new hardware that is capable of supporting DOCSIS 3.0.

The high-bandwidth options from Comcast are in trial in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota but Comcast states it will begin mass rollout once the design has been finalized and ready for use over its nationwide infrastructure, which Comcast's president of marketing and product development states may be by 2010.

Meanwhile, Verizon has brought its fiber-based broadband connection to a number of markets in the U.S. If Comcast goes through with these speed increases, we may hopefully see some long-awaited price wars in the broadband industry.

Pricing for the 50/20 Mbps download/upload package is stated around $150 and is only planned for the residential market. Business owners may have the option for a higher-bandwidth package in the future, however, no pricing information has been made available at this time.


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I'm excited
By Yawgm0th on 4/3/2008 6:37:26 PM , Rating: 2
I'm a dissatisfied Twin Cities Comcast user, but I'm still excited for the upgrade. Contrary to the article, this is not in competition with FIOS (at least not directly; no doubt it will be in other areas) since FIOS is not available in MN.

Charter, Quest, Speakeasy and a few others offer high-speed Internet services in the Twin Cities, but none offer anywhere near the bandwidth Comcast does for even remotely reasonable prices. Once it's available, this $150 line + cable + phone still costs less than a 6/2 line from Speakeasy, which is the fastest service I've found outside of Comcast. And despite Comcast's poor customer service and periodic -- but inevitable -- service outages, the bandwidth has always been the advertised amount on the dot (or better) for me. Even during peak hours I get my 8mbits, and the idea of an affordable 50mbit service is extremely exciting if they keep this up.

I just wish Verizon, AT&T, or a new player would get the Twin Cities some FTTH or FTTN goodness to force Comcast to either beef up customer service or cut down prices to beat the competition. Until then, I'll stick with the Devil I know and be happy once I get my 50mbit connection.




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