Comcast Will Launch 1 Gbps in 2015

Comcast plans to offer gigabit access service in U.S. markets starting in 2016, said Jorge Salinger, Comcast VP. The service will enabled by use of DOCSIS 3.1 technology that Comcast now is testing at employee homes. Salinger was too conservative, though.

Comcast will do so by the end of 2015.

"Our overall goal is to be able to deploy DOCSIS 3.1 and gigabit-per-second in a broad scale starting in 2016,” said Salinger.

DOCSIS 3.1 is in many ways a departure from past cable TV transmission schemes, in that it is the first to abandon the 6-MHz (8-MHz in many other countries) channelization plan that is a legacy of the industry’s origins as a TV retransmission network.

One question many will have is how Comcast will price the 1-Gbps service, to protect its legacy high speed access pricing. Comcast’s existing 505 Mbps service, primarily aimed at business customers, costs $300 a month, Comcast’s 105 Mbps high speed access services, aimed at consumers, costs perhaps $50 a month, depending on the package a consumer buys.

Most Internet service providers will face similar dilemmas, as they introduce gigabit services. In fact, some ISPs might find they sell more packages at slower speeds, even if gigabit access is the marketing headline.

Much depends on what speeds an ISP offers, at what price points. Google Fiber has a simple offer: a gigabit for $70 a month, or 5 Mbps for free. That pushes buyers immediately to 1 Gbps.

Other ISPs face tougher packaging choices. In my own Denver neighborhood, CenturyLink will sell a 100-Mbps service that costs $70 a month, with the price guaranteed for a year.

The 40-Mbps service costs $30 a month, guaranteed for a year. All those prices are for stand-alone service, with no phone service.

In that sort of environment, many consumers are going to conclude that 40 Mbps is “good enough,” and provides a better price-value relationship.
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