Comcast to offer South Floridians fastest residential Internet in country

Comcast soon will offer the fastest residential Internet speed in the country to its 1.3 million residential customers in South Florida.
Comcast soon will offer the fastest residential Internet speed in the country to its 1.3 million residential customers in South Florida. AP

Fast, faster, fastest.

In the race for speed, Comcast soon will offer the fastest residential Internet speed in the country to its 1.3 million residential customers in South Florida.

Comcast’s Gigabit Pro will offer 2-gigabit-per-second (Gbps) service — twice as fast as its competitors — to its customers in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties as well as those in the Jacksonville area beginning next month.

How fast is 2-gigabit service? Internet service at that speed would allow customers to download a high-definition movie in 12 seconds. “You can download your favorite band’s entire album in less than a second or an episode of Parks and Recreation in 2 seconds,” said Comcast Florida spokeswoman Mindy Kramer.

Comcast has not announced pricing or installation costs for its new service.

Gigabit Pro 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 tri-county coverage area. Comcast also plans to offer a 2-megabit fiber service through its XFINITY Communities program servicing some local multi-dwelling units such as apartment complexes.

Unlike some competitors offering gigabit speeds, “this will be one of the most comprehensive rollouts of multigig service,” said Thomas Zemaitis, vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast Florida. “We didn’t want to pick specific neighborhoods or cities or towns. ... It is throughout our marketplace.”

South Florida is the third Comcast market to announce Gigabit Pro, following Atlanta’s launch earlier this month and California last week. The company 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.

Zemaitis said the initial target for this service would be early adopters. They may be streaming videos, movies and TV across multiple devices, or they may be hard-core gamers or customers who need to transfer large files, for instance.

“More than half of our customers have speeds that are 50 megabits or faster. They are looking for more speed and this competitive move is a reaction to that,” Zemaitis said, noting that 25 megabits is typical.

The company will announce pricing next month, Zemaitis said. There also will be installation costs because Comcast has to run fiber from the node to the home and install professional grade equipment outside the house as well as a professional-grade router inside, he said.

In South Florida, 1-gigabit service is either already being offered or in the plans for several carriers.

Atlantic Broadband, the nation's 13th largest cable operator, began offering 1-gigabit service to its Indian Creek customers last summer, and is expanding throughout its Miami Beach service area. AT&T announced in August that it will expand its 1-gigabit AT&T GigaPower network to Miami, but the company has not released specific locations of availability, pricing or a timeline for the project that involves a nationwide rollout. 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, and announced earlier this year that four cities in the Southeast are in the plans.

Teresa Mastrangelo, analyst with the market research firm Broadbandtrends, told the San Jose Mercury News that Comcast is trying to get a jump on AT&T, Google Fiber and smaller players rolling out 1-gigabit service, but that Comcast's pricing will play a key role in whether it will appeal to customers. “I don’t know if anyone will know the difference between 1 and 2 gigabits,” she said. “It’s going to be fast, period.”

Comcast has been delivering multigig (up to 10 Gbps) Ethernet service to businesses in Florida since 2011 and serves more than 1.5 million businesses nationwide. With the introduction of Gigabit Pro, the company has now increased speeds for its subscribers 14 times in the past 13 years, Comcast said.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.