It has been a long time coming, but now an average broadband subscriber in the U.S. can sign-up for a 100 Mbps broadband connection. Comcast, the largest cable (and broadband) company said Thursday it’s launching Extreme 105 across its entire footprint, which covers 40 million homes in cities such as San Francisco, Seattle; Chicago; Miami; Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia; and the majority of Boston.
To be sure, companies such as Cablevision provide 100 Mbps connections in its region (New York), but Comcast is making it available at a national level. Forecasts have indicated we could have 100 million homes with 100 Mbps by 2015, and with Thursday’s news, we’re pretty close to that target now. That should make the FCC pretty happy.
Now, it’s not cheap: about $105 a month for the broadband connection if you sign up for a triple-play plan, where other services cost extra. The standalone price is pretty darn steep — $199 a month — which I think is a shame. Comcast should have sold this at a more affordable price. I was paying about $150 a month for a 50 Mbps business connection about a year ago. I signed up for that instead of $80 a month for 50 Mbps residential connection mostly because I didn’t want to face any “bandwidth caps.” A Comcast spokesperson says that the 250 GB cap applies to this super-fast broadband connection as well.
Based on the DOCSIS 3.0 technology, Comcast says you can download an HD movie in five minutes >seconds > with this speed, or a full album in 3 seconds, but that’s assuming the network performs at an optimum level. I think downloading files is the wrong way to look at what these speeds can do. I currently live in a building with a 100 Mbps connection, and as a result, I’ve slowly but surely switched away from downloads of digital content to more stream-oriented consumption. (Related: Forget P2P, Porn. ISPs Hate Netflix.)
Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV, Spotify and Pandora make up most of my digital content diet. When it comes to work, it’s now all in the “cloud” via Google Docs and Gmail. With higher bandwidth, the experience of all these services has improved for me. With Comcast making the higher speeds available nationwide, the upside is going to be for all these streaming services.I predict they will see a big bump in usage.
FTTH Council, says yes, and is pushing the US government to adopt a 100 Megabit Nation policy. The Council says that we have the technology, and the carriers (and cable providers) have the networks to make it all a reality – with a little pressure from Washington D.C.
The FTTH Council’s recommendation included the goal of extending, through both private and public sector initiatives, affordable next-generation broadband to a majority of Americans by 2010, with universal availability by 2015.
The Council wants Congress and the President to act fast on this – otherwise we will be stuck in the slow lane, of sub-10 megabit per second speeds. Every day we twiddle our thumbs, we lose some of the edge when it comes to developing clever ways to use the bandwidth. My simple argument is that what x86 was to the PC era, bandwidth is to the broadband era. The more bandwidth we have, the more innovative ways we will find to use it, thus creating another cycle of innovation.