Charter Ups Broadband Speeds Again, Bumps Top Tier To 100 Meg

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Looking to kick more sand in the face of DSL, Charter Communications is increasing connection speeds of its three top broadband tiers -- Express, Plus and Ultra, which will now provide downloads of up to 100 Megabits per second -- at no additional cost for subscribers.

The speed boosts are the MSO's fourth in the last three years. The faster speeds will take effect in markets with DOCSIS 3.0 technology deployed, which represents approximately 95% of Charter's service area.

"As customers share multiple devices on a single connection, we want to send a very strong message: DSL is basically archaic," said Rich DiGeronimo, Charter's senior vice president of product and strategy.

Charter is increasing Internet Express downstream speeds from 12 Mbps to up to 15 Mbps, and increasing upstream speeds from 1 Mbps to up to 3 Mbps. Internet Plus downstream speeds are being increased from 18 Mbps to up to 30 Mbps, and upstream speeds are being increased from 2 Mbps to up to 4 Mbps.

In addition, Charter's fastest residential offering is increasing from 60 Mbps to 100 Mbps -- with Ultra100 providing 100 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream. Charter's Internet Lite tier will remain 3 Mbps down.

The midlevel Plus tier, at 30/4, is now faster than the fastest AT&T U-verse Internet service available. Charter's footprint overlap with AT&T is 60%, although U-verse is not available in all of those areas.

"We believe we have an advantage in this space," DiGeronimo said. "The thirst for speed is only growing."

Charter is offering Express for $19.99 per month for 12 months to new customers, Plus for $29.99 per month. Ultra100 is $40 more per month than the Express tier.

"We're not asking for more money. It's really about differentiation," DiGeronimo said. About 90% of Charter's broadband customers take either Express and Plus service.

Charter's broadband services are subject to different usage thresholds. Customers with Lite and Express tiers are allotted at 100 Gigabytes of bandwidth usage per month, while those on the Plus and Max services have a threshold of 250 GB per month. The Ultra100 tier will be capped at 500 GB per month; previously, the Ultra60 tier did not have a maximum usage limit.

Charter currently does not charge overage fees for those who exceed the thresholds; however, users' accounts may be suspended for repeated violations.

Charter also is increasing speeds for business customers, bumping up commercial Internet speeds at no cost for two of its most popular services, Charter Business Internet Essentials16 and 25. The speed increase will take place in approximately 95% of Charter's service areas nationwide.

Specifically, the speed increases are: Internet Essetials16, with download speeds of 16 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of 2 Mbps, will increase to up to 20 Mbps download and up to 3 Mbps upload; and Internet Essentials25, with download speeds of 25 Mbps and upload speeds of 3 Mbps, will increase to up to 30 Mbps download and up to 4 Mbps upload -- which the MSO notes is at least 6 times faster than 5 Mbps DSL service and 20 times faster than T1 lines.

Charter's fastest commercial offerings, Pro50 and Pro100, remain the same, providing up to 50 Mbps download/5 Mbps upload and up to 100 Mbps download/5 Mbps upload, respectively.

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