Comcast continues its rollout of DOCSIS 3.0, or wideband as they call it. Pacific Northwest markets of Washington and Oregon will soon join the Twin Cities in Minnesota and certain Northeastern markets with the 50 Mbps capable broadband service. Approximately 1.8 million subscribers should gain access to the service in early December. Comcast has committed to wiring 20% of its footprint by the end of 2008. Comcast wideband tiers include the “Extreme 50″ which offers 50 Mbps down/10 Mbps up for $139.95 per month. Next in line is the “Ultra” tier which offers 22 Mbps down/5 Mbps up for $62.95 per month. Comcast will also offer a wideband business package which includes the Extreme 50 tier and bundles firewall/anti-virus and a Microsoft powered unified communications package for $189.95/month. All tiers are best effort, and can be impacted by traffic on the network. Consumer services are also subject to Comcast’s 250 GB per month bandwidth cap. It’s not quite clear how Comcast will integrate wideband into it’s double and triple play bundles.
An added benefit for existing subscribers in new wideband markets is an uptick in speeds for existing cable modem subscribers at no additional cost. Existing 6 Mbps down/1 Mbps tiers are doubled to 12 Mbps down/2 Mbps up, while the 8 Mbps/1 Mbps tier is also doubled to 16 Mbps down/2 Mbps up. Their Powerboost service, which adds a quick boost during downloads, remains as well. The move to wideband creates competitive pressures on all broadband providers within and close to these new markets. As Comcast blankets a new wideband market with advertising, they create a potential “wideband itch” among consumers, raising broadband expectations for all providers, regardless of whether they actually compete with Comcast directly or not.