Gigabit Cities

Comcast trots out Gigabit Pro… at a price

Comcast had more than one surprise in store for today.

In addition to launching its radical new OTT Stream service, word has emerged that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has begun testing Gigabit Pro, its multi-gigabit Internet service, in numerous cities around the US. The service, which has been delayed in launching, has been much anticipated since Comcast originally announced it in early April. (See Comcast Preps 2-Gig Service… Over Fiber,)

The previously leaked pricing for Gigabit Pro is now confirmed at $299 per month. However, Comcast is offering a promotional price for the symmetrical 2 Gbit/s speed tier of $159 per month. That is still far above the cost of gigabit service offered by other broadband providers, including Google Fiber Inc. in Kansas City and other markets and EPB Fiber Optics in Chattanooga, Tenn., both of which charge $70 per month. (See Comcast 'Stream' Joins OTT Flood.)

Currently, Gigabit Pro is listed as being available in parts of Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and California. Comcast has also committed to bringing the service to the Twin Cities in Minnesota, all of the MSO's footprint in Utah, the Houston region, Oregon and parts of Washington and Colorado this summer. (See Comcast Tees Up More Gigabit Markets.)

For the markets launched this year, Comcast will use fiber-to-the-home networks to deliver multi-gigabit service. However, the company has said it will extend gigabit tiers to all customers through deployments of DOCSIS 3.1, beginning in 2016. (See Comcast Preps 2-Gig Service… Over Fiber.)

Comcast has been extending fiber deep into its networks of late to support both higher Internet speeds and greater volumes of traffic. (See Comcast Goes N+0 in Gigabit Markets.)

It appears that the launch of Comcast Stream, which could boost the company's data traffic significantly, coincides nicely with the cable company's unveiling of its higher-capacity network services. We'll have more to say on that later.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

KBode 7/14/2015 | 3:44:01 PM
Re: Install fee That's a pretty hard sell, since there's no real use for those speeds yet. I'm pretty sure this would require users swap out a large amount of networking hardware to even take advantage of such an offering.
kq4ym 7/14/2015 | 8:46:34 AM
Re: Install fee At the $299 per month, plus all the extras, not too mention the 15% or so in extra taxes monthly, I'd have to pass on this one. But, with competition it would surely seem that those fees are going to have to go down, unless they can drive demand by convincing custumers tha gigabit service is a modern necessity.
cnwedit 7/13/2015 | 4:26:15 PM
Re: Install fee When I called Comcast to terminate my service, because I was taking AT&T's GigaPower, they told me I should wait a little while because their gigabit service was coming in a few weeks. I can only assume this is what they meant and it's certainly not a SOHO offer. 
Duh! 7/13/2015 | 12:40:18 PM
Perspective This all makes sense as a competitive response, as market positioning, and as a regulatory gesture.  On a P&L basis, not so much. 

FTTH economics, particularly with PON, is driven by economies of scale, achieved by sharing of infrastructure.  Building out distribution plant with individual truck rolls is going to be expensive.  With low expected take rate, they'll probably end up with lots of feeders serving one customers.  If they put splitters in the hub, they will be able to share an OLT port between a few feeders, but probably not max it out.   Based on that, I wouldn't be surprised if this turns out to be a money-losing proposition, even at eye-popping prices.

The pricing makes it pretty clear that this is not intended as a mass-market service.  Best to think of it as a tactical move, and a way to get their feet wet with FTTH.  They'll get serious about Gigabit with Docsis 3.1, while figuring out what place (if any) FTTP will ultimately have in their network.
KBode 7/13/2015 | 11:46:15 AM
Install fee That $1000 combined installation and activation fee is a doozy. And I think there's an ETF as well. Very curious if they'll lower those rates in markets with Google Fiber or municipal broadband competition?
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