For quite some time now I've been envious of people who have access to Google Fiber. As someone who between work (I work out of a home office) and play (I'm an online gamer) spends pretty much all day online, a faster connection is always something to covet, and Google Fiber offers a 1 Gbps connection that blows away the 30 Mbps service I have currently. Perhaps more importantly Google Fiber is symmetric; you get the same speed upstream as down. My current ISP (and the best option available in my current residence) tops out at 5 Mbps upstream which hinders my ability to do things like livestream games or host multiplayer servers.
The good news for me is that Google Fiber is headed to the city I'm currently living in. But even before it has arrived I'm setting my sights even higher, and what's really making this all feel very surreal is that the new service I want comes from Comcast. Yes, I'm about to say something nice about Comcast. It's like I don't even know who I am anymore.
You see yesterday Comcast announced a 2 Gbps residential Internet service and its symmetric. They call it Gigabit Pro, it debuts next month and it'll initially be available in the Atlanta metro area. Comcast claims that it's the fastest residential Internet service available in the country. To get it you'll have to be "within close proximity of Comcast’s fiber network" but Comcast says that encompasses 1.5 million people in the Atlanta metro area.
In a related blog post Comcast says by the end of 2015 it plans to be offering Gigabit Pro to 18 million homes in additional cities (though it didn't identify which cities are included). And there's still good news if it turns out you're not in one of the cities covered by Gigabit Pro. Comcast says in 2016 it'll start rolling out DOCSIS 3.1 service that should bring 1 Gbps Internet to "almost every customer" that Comcast services.
Of course we don't know how much of all of this will cost. Comcast told Ars Technica that Gigabit Pro will cost less than the current 505 Mbps that Comcast offers for $399.95. Less than $399.95 doesn't sound encouraging but hey it's a Friday and I'm feeling optimistic. Maybe it'll be substantially less. If the intent is to compete with Google Fiber it'll have to be.
Comcast isn't a popular company these days and stories about their terrible customer service come along fairly regularly. Here's a story about a customer being called a b**** another being called an a**hole and yet another being called a wh*re, and let's not forget the incredibly awful service call recorded by Ryan Block last summer
So I have to admit my envy for the new 2 Gbps service is tempered by the fact that I'd have to submit to this kind of abuse if I were to become a Comcast customer (not that I have the option without relocating). Maybe I'm better off just waiting for Google Fiber to reach my city.