Comcast Fires Up 100-Mbps Business Tier


Comcast is debuting 100-Mbps Internet service for businesses in Minneapolis/St. Paul, an opening salvo in one of its most aggressive attacks on telephone companies' commercial services.

The DOCSIS 3.0-based service, priced at $369.95 per month, is "highly competitively priced" compared with typical telco business-class T-1 lines, according to Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas. The cable operator is initially offering the 100-Mbps tier to commercial customers--rather than residential subscribers--"because we think this kind of speed will be of more interest to them," he added.

Minneapolis/St. Paul was the first market where Comcast began deploying DOCSIS 3.0, in April 2008. The new service offers up to 100 Mbps downloads and up to 15 Mbps uploads, making it one of the fastest broadband services available in the U.S. today.

Other cable operators have turned the broadband dial to 100 Mbps. In April, Cablevision Systems launched the 101-Mbps Optimum Online Ultra service to customers in its New York service area, while Canada's Shaw Communications debuted a 100-Mbps service earlier in the year.

According to Comcast, businesses that can take advantage of 100-Mbps downloads include those that must exchange large files, such as architectural firms, graphic designers, law firms, real-estate agencies and medical offices.

With the 100-Mbps service, a user could download a 2-Gigabyte file in about two minutes -- a file transfer that could take more than three hours over a 1.5-Mbps T-1 line.

"Internet speeds this fast are a game-changer for businesses," Bill Stemper, president of Comcast Business Services, said in announcing the service. The 100-Mbps service "is ideal for data-intensive businesses that need this kind of speed and want an alternative to slower, more expensive T-1 lines."

Comcast chief operating officer Steve Burke, on a call with Wall Street analysts in February, said the MSO eventually wanted to "offer 50 or 100 Meg in as many places as possible."

As with Comcast's other Internet services for businesses, the 100-Mbps tier features the Microsoft Communication Service, which includes Windows SharePoint and Microsoft Outlook e-mail with 15 e-mail boxes. Also included is McAfee Security Suite software with antivirus, spyware and firewall protection for 25 PCs.