Comcast Ups Broadband Speeds

Comcast has doubled downstream speeds for its high-speed Internet customers in several markets in the South and Midwest.

Customers in theses areas will have access to a new 3 Mbps service at no additional cost. Previously, downstream speeds were close to 1.5 Mbps. Upstream speeds will remain at 256 Kbps.

The upgrade debuts today in: Atlanta; Detroit, Dallas, Ga., Hattiesburg, Miss., Independence, Mo., Knoxville, Tenn., Lake County, Fla., Meridian, Miss., Mobile, Ala., Muncie, Ind., Panama City, Fla., Pittsburgh, Savannah, Ga., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Comcast will deploy faster downstream speeds in the majority of its other markets by the end of the year. No downloads software or upgraded connections are necessary.

Comcast’s faster speeds are part of the battle between cable modem and DSL providers trying to offer customers both service upgrades and cheaper prices.

Comcast currently offers high-speed Internet service for $42.95 per month for customers who also subscribe to its cable TV service. Non-cable customers pay $57.95.

Comcast’s faster speed rollout comes as there is evidence it is trailing several of its cable rivals in delivering high-speed service to customers. recently compiled test results of the major broadband cable providers and found that Comcast lagged Cablevision Systems , Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable (among others) in data rates. The survey put Comcast in 48th place, clocking speeds of just 1.5 Mbps downstream and 222 Kbps upstream.

And it’s not just Comcast, which is moving to boost cable modem speeds. On
Thursday, RCN announced new high-speed Internet service called MegaModem Mach5.

“This service will provide customers with up to 5 Mbps of download speed, which is more than 3 times the speed of most competitors’ “high speed” offerings at no extra cost,” the company said.

But Comcast is responding to its critics by delivering faster speeds, and
one Wall Street analyst expects the entire cable industry to improve
subscriber numbers in the third quarter.

Smith Barney analyst Niraj Gupta, in a research note, predicts major cable TV operators will add six percent more subscribers in the third
quarter of 2003 than they did for the same period a year ago.

In response to faster speeds and better prices for high-speed cable Internet
service, the telephone companies are lowering their prices.

Gupta expects the telephone company price cuts for their DSL service will
boost their market share. He said that DSL’s share of new high-speed subscribers will grow to 37 percent in the third quarter from 32
percent in the second quarter. Analysts estimate the cable industry’s share
of the high-speed Internet market is between 60 to 65 percent.

The telephone companies are trying to undercut prices offered by cable
companies. Jupiter Research, a subsidiary of Jupitermedia, the parent
company of this Web site, recently found that the average cable modem
bill is approximately $44.

On Wednesday, SBC Communications , the nation’s second
largest local telephone company, said it will cut prices on its DSL service
by close to 10 percent. SBC will charge $26.95 for customers, who
sign-up through the company’s Web site and commit for one
year. The offer stands until the end of the

SBC says it now has 2.8 million DSL subscribers, an increase of 60 percent
over a year ago. SBC operates and markets its high-speed Internet service
with Yahoo .

Officials from Verizon Communications , which cut its DSL
rates back in May by more than 20 percent, said it doesn’t intend to cut
prices further.

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