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Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: Comcast Doubles Down on D3.1

TGIF once again. In this week's Gigabites, Comcast spreads its gigabit wings, RCN takes DOCSIS 3.1 to Chicago, MaxxSouth Broadband rolls gigabit service in Oxford, Mississippi and more.

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s original gigabit service, dubbed Gigabit Pro, is looking more and more like a stopgap marketing measure as the cable company now moves full force into DOCSIS 3.1 deployments. This week, Comcast added to its tally of five D3.1 markets set to launch by the end of the year (four are currently live) with news that ten additional cities will receive DOCSIS 3.1-powered gigabit service in early 2017. Of the new cities on the list, three are regions where Google Fiber Inc. recently announced it is pausing plans to roll out a fiber-to-the-home network. Those cities include Jacksonville, Florida; Portland, Oregon; and San Jose, California. (See Google Fiber Hits Pause Button, Scales Back.)

    Currently, Comcast has D3.1 service in Nashville, Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit, with Miami deployment scheduled to begin in November or December. Additional cities coming online in early 2017 include Denver; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Missouri; Knoxville, Tennessee; the San Francisco Bay Area; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle.

    When Comcast launched Gigabit Pro in select markets starting in 2015, the company promised multi-gigabit speeds, but at a stunningly high cost of $300 per month. That price point couldn't compare with Google Fiber's $70-per-month offer, but just by launching the service, Comcast was able to earn some marketing momentum. (See Comcast Trots Out Gigabit Pro… at a Price.)

    In contrast to Gigabit Pro, Comcast's D3.1 service (currently referred to simply as Gigabit Internet) rings in at $140 per month with no commitment, or as low as $70 monthly with a long-term contract. To date, the new service only supports DOCSIS 3.1 in the downstream, meaning that upload speeds max out at just 35 Mbit/s. But Comcast VP Jorge Salinger has said that the D3.1 modems going into consumer homes today support the technology in the upstream too, meaning that once Comcast has further upgraded its networks, existing D3.1 customers will have access to greater upstream capacity as well. (See Gigabites: D3.1 in 'Hundreds' of Homes.)


  • For more gigabit coverage and insights, check out our dedicated Gigabit/Broadband content channel here on Light Reading.


  • Comcast isn't the only cable company pushing forward with DOCSIS 3.1. Following up on last week's launch in New York City, RCN Corp. announced the availability of D3.1-based gigabit service in Chicago this week. The new offering starts at a price of $70 per month for the first year of use. No contract required.

  • Meanwhile, independent service provider MaxxSouth Broadband is following the FTTH route for its gigabit service. The company added the town of Oxford, Mississippi to its gigabit footprint late last week and now supports three Mississippi cities with its FTTH network. MaxxSouth says the initial deployment in Oxford will cover roughly 3,000 homes, with further expansion planned throughout Lafayette County.

  • And finally, a radiologist in Chattanooga recently talked to Motherboard about why he bought and uses a whopping 10-gigabit residential service from EPB Fiber Optics . According to the EPB customer, the file size of a standard X-ray averages about 200 megabytes, but a 3D mammogram can take up a whole 10 gigabytes of file space. Transferring images of that size makes 10-gig Internet suddenly sound reasonable.

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

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