Comcast's new 305 Mbps Internet service underscores the value of competition

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Next month I'm moving out of New England. While moving is always a hassle, I was pretty casual about the whole plan. I can do both my jobs from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection and a laptop, so while I was worried about things like how well the dog would adjust, I wasn't thinking much about my working life.

Then yesterday came the news that Comcast is launching a 305 Mbps internet service. That's 305 Mbps down, 65 Mbps up. Now granted it costs $300/month, but Comcast is also doubling speeds for its 25 Mbps customers and more than doubling speeds for its 50 Mbps customers (to 105 Mbps) at no additional charge.

Why is Comcast doing this? To compete with Verizon FiOS, of course. The new speeds are available in 'certain markets' and they're all in the Northeast where FiOS service is available. Richmond, VA is the southernmost city to get the new Comcast speeds and not coincidentally Virginia is as far south as FiOS services.

(You can read more about Comcast's new terms over at GigaOm.)

The apartment complex I'm moving into is served by Time Warner Cable. Time Warner isn't competing with anyone with the clout of Verizon FiOS; honestly I'm not sure that they have any competition in the area. Their Internet service tops out at "up to" 50 Mbps and that costs $80/month during the promotional period. That's not all that bad of a price but if you want to go faster you're out of luck. Also the upload speed is a paltry 5 Mbps.

For comparison's sake, Verizon offers 50/25 service for $80 for the first two years. Why hasn't Time Warner rolled out faster speeds? It has no need to. Its customers are stuck with what it has to offer.

I've asked around and most (but not all) people I talk to seem unhappy with Time Warner Cable. Now admittedly it's pretty hard to find people who'll say good things about any cable company but I will. Aside from cost I was pretty happy when I was a Comcast customer. And I've been a happy FiOS customer. Am I just lucky? I don't think so. I think both companies offer better service in my current area because they're in competition. When your customers have somewhere else to go, you're going to treat them better.

So what's my point? Just that Comcast's new speed offerings really underscore the need for their to be more competition in the Cable TV and Internet service space. As a Massachusetts resident who has had a choice in who to give my TV/Internet business to, I've been spoiled for the past few years. I'd like to see the rest of the country have the same opportunities that those of us in "FiOS Country" have had.

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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