It's not quite gigabit service, but RCN is providing a substantial speed upgrade to broadband customers in New York City as it seeks the upper hand against Time Warner Cable.
RCN Corp. announced today that it will roll out a service with downstream speeds of 330 Mbit/s across its entire NYC metro footprint in December. That's triple the company's highest speed tier today of 110 Mbit/s. Upstream speeds for the new service will clock in at 20 Mbit/s next month, up from 15 Mbit/s today.
The new speed tier will only be available to the company's new customers, but it will come with a $64.99 monthly price tag that is guaranteed not to go up for three years. RCN also says that no long-term contract is required.
RCN's upgrade is a sign that the competitive New York market isn't done heating up. Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) just completed its TWC Maxx deployment in the city earlier this month, boosting its highest-tier broadband subscribers from downstream speeds of 100 Mbit/s to 300 Mbit/s. That upgrade came as a result of TWC's larger initiative to reclaim bandwidth by converting from analog TV to all-digital video delivery.
So far, Time Warner Cable has deployed TWC Maxx in New York, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, and has plans to roll it out to seven more markets -- Charlotte, Dallas, Hawaii, Kansas City, Raleigh, San Antonio and San Diego -- in 2015. The speed hikes appear to be having a positive impact on TWC's subscriber numbers. The cable company recorded 108,000 new broadband customers in the third quarter. (See TWC Broadband Subs Soar, Video Slumps.)
The two other prominent broadband players in the New York metro area are Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). Cablevision offers a top speed tier of 101 Mbit/s, while Verizon sells a FiOS Internet service with symmetrical speeds of 500 Mbit/s. Cablevision has managed to keep its financial numbers healthy, but continues to lose broadband share to FiOS. The fifth-largest US MSO lost 23,000 high-speed data customers in the third quarter, while Verizon, which has a much broader footprint outside New York than Cablevision, added 162,000 FiOS broadband subscribers. (See Cablevision Battles More Sub Drops .)
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading