Comcast is launching its first DOCSIS 3.0, or “wideband” market this week in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The new broadband service will offer 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload speeds for $150/month with a $3/month cable modem rental fee. DOCSIS 3.0 has the capability to go to 100 Mbps and beyond, but Comcast believes that much speed is unnecessary for right now. Comcast is also increasing its broadband speeds for its “legacy” broadband tiers in Minneapolis, meaning the arrival of DOCSIS 3.0 to any given market may give its entire broadband customer base a boost. Comcast intends to extend DOCSIS 3.0 to 20% of its footprint by the end of the year.
This development is sure to intensify the broadband wars. I can just envision the Verizon FiOS marketing machine now, dreaming up counter claims to the new Comcast wideband service. I suspect they will try to leverage higher upload speeds as a differentiator. There will also be some pricing battles for these ultra high speed packages. Comcast probably picked a non-FiOS market like Minneapolis to perfect their “craft” before going head up with Verizon. They’ll want to gain some experience in a more competitive friendly town before going to battle. Stay tuned.