Charter Hikes Cable Modem Speeds

Hearing a cry for more speed, Charter Communications is launching much faster downstream service to cable modem subscribers throughout its territories.

Charter, which wound up the first half of the year with 2.4 million residential high-speed data customers, says it's now offering a 10 Mbit/s tier in 15 of its 20 markets across the nation. Plans call for extending the new, high-speed tier to its remaining five markets over the rest of the year. With the move, the company joins such other major North American MSOs as Comcast, Cox Communications, Cablevision Systems, RCN, and Videotron Ltd. in rolling out double-digit Mbit/s speeds in at least some of its markets.

Now the fourth largest MSO in the U.S., Charter also launched a 5 Mbit/s tier recently in all 20 markets. At the same time, the MSO still retains its standard 3 Mbit/s broadband service throughout its markets, as well as a lower-speed introductory tier to entice dialup Internet users.

Besides boosting cable modem speeds, Charter plans to introduce new, advanced security software to all cable modem subscribers who opt for at least the basic 3 Mbit/s service. Supplied by F-Secure, the software offers root kit detection to protect against hackers, anti-virus and spyware protection, parental controls, and personal firewalls.

In announcing these moves, Charter did not disclose how much its customers must pay for the two new, higher speed tiers. On its Web site, the MSO still promotes just its 3 Mbit/s service, with no mention of the two faster services.

Charter did say, though, that it's introducing the new high-speed tiers because of growing customer demand for more bandwidth and swifter download speeds. The company especially stressed the potential of the 10 Mbit/s service, which also features upload speeds of up to 1 Mbit/s.

Company officials noted that more than 25% of U.S. households now have some type of home network, 36% of Web users play online games and 25% download music from the Internet. They contended that the new 10 Mbit/s service will make home networks more responsive to multiple users, enable online gamers to host multi-player games and chat with other gamers during the action, and cut the time needed for downloading music and movies. They also argued that the 1 Mbit/s upload speed will let subscribers transmit such bulky files as digital photos much quicker and easier.

-- Alan Breznick, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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