Comcast has booted up an “advanced consumer trial” of a DOCSIS 3.1-powered 1 Gbps broadband service for early adopters in select parts of Atlanta ahead of an expected wider rollout in the city and in other markets around the country.
Comcast said the service being tested in Atlanta, which pairs a 1-Gig downstream with an upstream that maxes out at 35 Mbps, is being offered under two pricing options – a promotional contract price of $70 per month for 36 months and unlimited data, and a no-contract price that runs $139.95 per month. Comcast has been testing usage-based broadband policies in several markets, including Atlanta, but has not announced if it intends to make it a company-wide, commercial policy. Among the policies being tested is an "Unlimited Data Option" that costs an additional fee of $30 to $35 per month, depending on the market.
Comcast said it intends to roll out 1-Gig services at addition price points in other markets as it tries to gauge consumer interest for gigabit speeds.
Last month, Comcast announced that it would rollout residential and business-class gigabit broadband using DOCSIS 3.1 in Atlanta and Nashville in “early 2016,” and follow with launches in Chicago, Detroit and Miami in the second half of the year.
Comcast said new and current customers in Atlanta can visit Xfinity.com/gig to learn about the new gigabit service and to request additional information on the trial as the service becomes more broadly available. Those selected will be among the first to kick the tires on a service that uses DOCSIS 3.1, a new multi-gigabit platform for HFC networks, and will be encouraged to provide Comcast with feedback on the service.
According to a WSB-TV, Atlanta neighborhoods that will be part of the trial include Brookhaven, Avondale Estates, Dunwoody, Decatur, Chamblee, Doraville, Sandy Springs, East Point, College Park, Midtown Atlanta, Buckhead, Alpharetta, English Avenue, Carver Hills and Roswell.
Comcast didn’t announce which modem vendors are taking part in the Atlanta D3.1 trial. However, five vendors -- Askey, Castle Net, Netgear, Technicolor and Ubee Interactive -- have achieved DOCSIS 3.1 certification from CableLabs for their respective cable modem products. Last month, Arris announced via its blog that the supplier's flagship cable access platform, the E6000 Converged Edge Router, is supporting Comcast D3.1 rollout in four of the five markets already identified by the cable operator.
“Our Atlanta customers will be among the first in the world to enjoy this new Gigabit technology, and we’re looking forward to learning more from these early adopters about how they take advantage of these ultra-fast speeds,” Bill Connors, president of Comcast’s Central Division, said in a statement. “The capabilities of DOCSIS 3.1 are incredibly exciting, and we are the first to market with a Gigabit offering that runs over our existing cable infrastructure.”
Comcast also sells a symmetrical 2 Gbps residential service called Gigabit Pro that uses fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology. That uncapped service, which costs $299.95 per month, is currently available to 18 million homes (eligible homes must be within one-third of a mile of Comcast’s fiber network).
From a competitive standpoint, Google Fiber has begun to use some existing fiber infrastructure in the Atlanta area to deliver service to select apartment buildings in the city’s suburbs to seed the market ahead of a planned, broader network deployment in the area. AT&T has also rolled out its fiber-based "GigaPower" service to parts of the Atlanta area ($70 per month for standalone 1-Gig, $120 when bundled with TV service, and $150 when combined with TV and U-verse voice).