Timed with Wednesday's Senate hearing on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, Comcast announced that it has boosted broadband speeds for two tiers in its Northeast division, and had deployed more than 1 million WiFi hotspots.
On the wireline side in the Northeast, a division made up of systems stretching across 14 states from Maine to Virginia that serve approximately one-third of Comcast's subscriber base, the cable operator bumped the max downstream capabilities of its “Xfinity Internet Blast” tier from 50 Mbps to 105 Mbps, and its “Xfinity Extreme” tier from 105 Mbps to 150 Mbps, without raising the price of those offerings.
To get the faster speeds, most customers will need to restart their modems, though others will need to upgrade their devices. Comcast said subs who lease modems from the operator will be upgraded at no additional charge. Those tiers are offered on Comcast's DOCSIS 3.0 platform. Comcast also offers a fiber-based 505 Mbps (downstream) high-speed Internet service in select markets.
Comcast said it marks the 13th time in the past years that the MSO had increased its broadband speeds. Comcast did not announce when it would expand those speed increases to other areas, but a spokesman said the plan is to do so on a market-to-market basis.
“There is a barrage of devices coming online every day and we are staying ahead of demand through faster speeds and best-in-class wireless gateways,” said Marcien Jenckes, executive VP of consumer services for Comcast Cable, in a statement.
On the WiFi side, Comcast said it has deployed more than 1 million hotspots, a number that factors in quasi-public hotspots (deployed in outdoor and in business locations) available to other MSOs that are part of the “CableWiFi” roaming consortium (Cox Communications, Bright House Networks, Cablevision Systems and Time Warner Cable) and home-side “neighborhood” wireless DOCSIS gateways that emit a separate “XfinityWiFi” signal that is accessible to Comcast cable modem subs.
On the quasi-public side of the WiFi equation, Comcast has deployed hotspots in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, as well as areas of New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.
Although Comcast’s WiFi hotspot deployment has centered on wireless broadband access, The Information reported this week that the operator is mulling a mobile voice service that would rely on both WiFi hotspots and cellular connections. Comcast is already marketing bundles with cellular services as part of its agreement with Verizon Wireless. That deal also includes an MVNO option that would allow Comcast to sell mobile services under its own brand.