Comcast Fights Fiber With Fiber


Imitation isn’t always the sincerest form of flattery. Occasionally, it’s a competitive necessity.

Just two months after Verizon Communications unleashed a FiOS Internet offering that hits downstream speeds of 500 Megabits per second, Comcast countered last week with an upgrade to its “Extreme” residential service tier that squeaks by at 505 Mbps.

On the upstream side, both services offer speeds of 100 Mbps.

Riding an Ethernet-based platform used primarily to serve midsized business customers, Comcast is using fiber-to-the-premises technology to support its new, speedy residential tier, which originally topped out at 305 Mbpbs downstream and 65 Mbps upstream. The MSO will upgrade the speed while maintaining a baseline price of $299.95 per month, matching Verizon’s price.

But Comcast’s fiber-fed residential service footprint is limited. For now, the operator is only selling “Extreme” in its Northeast region, which includes Washington, D.C., and cities such as Philadelphia; Boston; Hartford, Conn.; Baltimore; and Richmond, Va. “We’ll assess customer interest in it” before determining expansion plans, spokesman Charlie Douglas said.

Verizon’s new 500-Mbps offering also isn’t available across its entire FiOS network, either. The telco estimates the service will be available to 70% of its FiOS footprint (18 million homes in 12 states, plus Washington, D.C.) by the end of 2014.

Even as Verizon and Comcast go toe-to-toe on broadband speeds and pricing, ISPs elsewhere continue to beat them on both counts., thanks to recent product launches or price reductions.