Midcontinent Brings 100 Mbps To The Dakotas, Minnesota

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Midcontinent Communications is boosting broadband speeds for more than 250,000 customers in the Upper Midwest, including a top tier of 100 Megabits per second down and 15 Mbps up, and has added access to ESPN3.com online video service as part of the upgrade.

The DOCSIS 3.0-based MidcoNet Xstream Wideband service is available in three new tiers of service: 100/15 Mbps; 50/10 Mbps; and 30/5 Mbps. Those replace the operator's previous tiers of 50/5, 30/3 and 20/2.

The higher speeds were made possible by Midcontinent's analog-reclamation project which freed up spectrum. The company said up to 300 Mbps now flows into individual neighborhoods. Midcontinent already offered the fastest Internet speeds in the three-state area, where 3 Mbps downstream is the average, according to the company.

Midcontinent does not have bandwidth caps in place, although customers have the ability to monitor their usage from the customer-service portal, according to vice president of technology Jon Pederson. "Like most network providers we have evaluated this possibility, but have no immediate plans to implement bandwidth-usage caps," he said.

According to the operator, Internet bandwidth consumption increased 116% in 2010 and has grown more than fourfold since 2009.

With ESPN3.com, Midcontinent broadband subs will have access to more than 3,500 live sports events annually. The site lets fans toggle among up to 20 events in a main viewing window, and video can be watched in widescreen (16:9) or standard (4:3) views.

Midcontinent's Northern Plains Network has 100 Gbps of capacity and spans 5,000 route miles of fiber in the Dakotas and Minnesota. The MSO offers more information on the Xstream Wideband services at XisNext.com.

Last month, Midcontinent purchased systems with about 33,000 customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin from US Cable.