In a series of rapid-fire announcements this morning, Comcast revealed half a dozen new regional targets for its Gigabit Pro broadband service.
Comcast's new Gigabit hit list includes the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the MSO's entire footprint in Utah, the Houston area, Oregon, parts of Washington and parts of Colorado. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) also announced that it will launch a new Extreme 250 service tier in the same regions offering Internet speeds up to 250 Mbit/s. The rollouts are all expected to occur later this year.
The Gigabit Pro service beats out other Gigabit offerings by doubling symmetrical speeds to 2 Gbit/s. Using a fiber-to-the-home strategy, Comcast Corp. has previously said it will bring Gigabit Pro to Atlanta, parts of Florida, areas of California, the Greater Chicago region and parts of Tennessee, including Chattanooga. The company is aiming to extend availability of the service to 18 million homes by year's end. (See Comcast Preps 2-Gig Service… Over Fiber.)
Comcast VP of Network Architecture Rob Howald recently explained that the company's ability to deliver multi-gigabit speeds stems from the operator's fiber-deep strategy. With more than 145,000 route miles of fiber deployed across the country, Comcast has been able to shrink service group sizes in select markets down to only about 100 subscribers per fiber node. That gets customers very close to fiber termination and makes it relatively easy for Comcast to extend fiber to the home for households that want Gigabit Pro service. (See Comcast Goes N+0 in Gigabit Markets.)
Even as Comcast has accelerated its Gigabit rollout plans, it still faces competition on several fronts from the likes of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and Google Fiber Inc. Comcast hasn't announce pricing for its highest-speed services yet, but a promotional website discovered earlier this month suggested that Gigabit Pro would start at $299 per month. Comcast has since said the web pages were put up in error, and that no official price has been listed yet for the service.
Several municipal and non-profit institutions are also driving delivery of high-speed Internet services across the country, including EPB Fiber Optics in Chattanooga and UC2B in Urbana-Champaign, Ill., through its partnership with private company iTV-3. (See Chattanooga Charts Killer Gigabit Apps and Taking a Different Path to 1 Gigabit.)
Starting in 2016, Comcast has said it will also introduce Gigabit services over hybrid fiber coax networks using DOCSIS 3.1. At the Internet & Television Expo, the company showed off a new gigabit gateway it will use for D3.1 deployments. (See Comcast Readies D3.1 & RDK-B.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading