Early adopters gunning for the fastest residential Internet speeds in the country can now have them — at a price.
Comcast on Monday released its South Florida pricing plans for Gigabit Pro, its new premium service offering Internet speeds of up to 2 gigabits per second, on the same day it also announced Internet speed increases of 50 percent for existing customers.
In Florida, Comcast is offering its Gigabit Pro — with speeds twice as fast as its competitors — first to its 1.3 million customers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as well as in the Jacksonville area. Promotional pricing will begin at $159 a month for a three-year contract, spokeswoman Mindy Kramer said. Regular pricing is $299.95 a month for a two-year contract. An activation fee of $500 may be waived with some promotions, and installation fees likely will apply and vary. More details can be found at http://www.xfinity.com/multi-gig.
Gigabit Pro requires a site survey from a specially trained technician, fiber extended to the home and installation of professional-grade equipment inside and outside the home, and Comcast took all these facors into account when determining the price of the service, Kramer said. “This product is for the most advanced digital households and consumers who want the fastest Internet connection available in the marketplace,” she said.
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These consumers may be early adopters streaming videos, movies and TV across multiple devices, hard-core gamers or customers who need to transfer very large files.
Comcast also said Monday that it is increasing Internet speeds across Florida at no additional charge to customers. The company will increase the speed of its Blast! service to 75 Mbps – from 50 Mbps – and introduce a new Extreme 150 Mbps speed tier.
The new speeds and tiers will be available immediately to the vast majority of new and existing customers in Florida. To get the new Blast! speeds, customers may need to restart their modems. Comcast will also notify those customers who need to upgrade their modems to receive the increased speeds. Customers who lease modems from Comcast will be able to receive upgraded modems at no additional charge.
Customers are demanding faster speeds, said Thomas Zemaitis, vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast’s Florida Region. At the end of the first quarter of 2015, 68 percent of Comcast’s residential high-speed Internet customers took a speed of 50 Mbps or faster, Comcast said.
The speed boost for the Blast! tier and the addition of the Extreme 150 tier gives customers more choices, added Zemaitis. The company is also testing a 1-gigabit-per-second service, and expects to begin rolling it out early next year. When fully deployed, it will mean almost every customer in Comcast’s service area will be able to receive gigabit speeds over its existing fiber and coax network, Comcast said.
To be sure, this is a tactical move in the race to deliver super-fast Internet across the nation. In South Florida, 1-gigabit service is already being offered by a couple of carriers.
Late last month, AT&T released details and pricing for its new 1-gigabit U-verse with AT&T GigaPower service in South Florida, which starts at $120 a month and is available in bundles. Atlantic Broadband began offering 1-gigabit service to its Indian Creek customers last summer, and is expanding throughout its Miami Beach service area. And while South Florida is not yet on Google Fiber’s expansion map, the company has been rolling out its 1-gigabit service in selected cities across the country, including in the Southeast.
Comcast’s superfast service rollout may slow Google’s expansion, according to industry watchers. “We believe Comcast’s Gigabit Pro network has the capacity to pose a considerable threat to Google Inc.’s ultra high-speed fiber-based network. Gigabit Pro promises double the Internet speed offered by Google’s fiber network and will be 80 times faster than Comcast’s standard broadband Internet speed,” said Zacks Equity Research in a report last month.
Gigabit Pro, fast enough to download an album in less than a second, is a symmetrical service, meaning the speeds are the same for uploads and downloads. It will be available in areas with access to fiber, which is throughout its coverage area in South Florida. Zemaitis said in April that unlike some competitors offering gigabit speeds, “this will be one of the most comprehensive rollouts of multigig service. ... It is throughout our marketplace.”
Comcast has built out more than 145,000 route miles of fiber across its service area, including Florida, to serve residential communities with a fiber-to-the-home service.
Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.