Comcast Preps for Broadband Price War

2:10 PM -- Broadband Reports has posted what appears to be confidential Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) material showing a lineup of "potential" broadband tiers and prices that it's considering launching in the second quarter of 2013. According to the report, Comcast is looking to offer these tiers first in its most competitive markets -- those that tangle with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS.

One of the changes apparently under review includes a speed tweak alongside a significant price cut on Comcast's high-end Docsis 3.0 residential tier. Its current top-end Xfinity Platinum service maxes out at 305Mbit/s down by 65Mbit/s upstream and sells for almost $300 per month, with availability currently limited to some systems in the Northeastern U.S. Pricing on this proposed "Premiere" tier would run $119 per month (it's not entirely clear if that's a bundled price) for 300Mbit/s down by 75Mbit/s up. That would sharply undercut Verizon's new 300-Meg Quantum FiOS service, whose bundled price is $204.99 per month, and perhaps boost the take rates of Comcast's D3 tiers. (See Comcast Revs Up Pricey 305-Meg Tier and FiOS Speeds & Prices Take a Quantum Leap .)

The cuts would also demonstrate that Comcast does intend to keep the heat on Verizon's wireline business even as it cozies up to new mobile partner, Verizon Wireless . (See Cable OK to Attack FiOS With Verizon Wireless.)

But, perhaps just as importantly, the new pricing would also come into play as the MSO ramps up new policies that would charge extra if customers breached a soft monthly data cap. It's testing one in Nashville, Tenn., that sets a monthly 300-gigabyte threshold and charges $10 for each extra bucket of 50GB. In the coming months, Comcast's expected to try out some other ideas that match different caps and fees with specific speed tiers -- along the lines of the policies that Mediacom Communications Corp. recently launched. (See Mediacom Unleashes Usage-Based Broadband and Comcast Turns On Usage-Based Broadband.)

Another thing that grabbed my attention was the mention of some new wireless CPE options that intend to beef up the home's Wi-Fi network. The image shows "Wireless" and "Wireless Plus" device options supporting speeds of 150Mbit/s to 300Mbit/s. To me, that suggests that Comcast is getting ready to introduce gateways with 802.11ac, a new standard with 1Gbit/s potential that that will help the home's wireless network to match up with the Internet speeds that are being wired into the home.

The second quarter of 2013 is a long ways away, so these new pricing and packaging schemes are in flux. And, for now, Comcast isn't verifying anything. "We don't comment on speculation or rumor and have nothing to announce at this time," a company spokesman said of the report.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:23:35 PM
re: Comcast Preps for Broadband Price War

You do get accelerated support with Business Class if something goes down or bad, which certainly means something if you rely on connectivity. 

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:23:35 PM
re: Comcast Preps for Broadband Price War

I wonder how this might affect Comcast's HSD service for smallish or home-based businesses.  Unless you need all the MSFT communications tools, extra security and email boxes they throw in and can do without some of the special customer service treatment, it would be hard for the biz to justify paying that higher price if it coudl get away with getting the residential version. The other differentiator is that the biz servcie is cap-free, so that would have to factor into the decision too if your business eats up lots of bytes.  JB  

tmc8080 12/5/2012 | 5:23:32 PM
re: Comcast Preps for Broadband Price War

Comcast doesn't have much to worry about, more geography overlap is in the population dense cities of the northeast, and the majority of that is covered by Time Warner and Cablevision, who have yet to respond to the 300mbit tier.. in ANY way. They are still holding onto the good news that Verizon increased their prices, so customers may choose to have slower speeds and non-bundled services (single/dual play) if the price is cheaper. Historically, speed increases that happen with Comcast are replicated by the other carriers.. so expect a 300ish mbit tier soon from Time Warner and Cablevision..  I think they're still trying to figure out pricing.. as of now Comcast seems to have the 300mbit cap in place for all tiers.. and that is a significant factor in the $119.99 price.. vs $204.99. You can be sure that the price would be much higher if there were no cap. Least we forget, some broadband from around the world is still a bit expensive to exchange (exept for the largest backbone tier-1 comapnies).. peering doesn't negate all of it's cost.

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