Black family on laptop, Rural Broadband for minorities

Charter Spectrum announced today that it is raising its entry level broadband tier to 200 Mbps in an additional 37 markets. The increase should impact 5 million homes.

The Charter Spectrum 200 Mbps tier joins 400 Mbps and Gigabit tiers, which are available companywide, the company reports.

Charter joins Comcast, who recently upped its speed tiers across its Northeast markets. The Comcast speed upgrades targeted both downstream and upstream speeds, doubling upstream in many cases.

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“Beginning today, we are doubling starting speeds for millions of customers, providing even more speed for streaming, remote work, and staying connected with family and friends — with no modem fees, data caps or contracts,” said Carl Leuschner, Senior Vice President, Internet & Voice Products at Charter, in a press release. “We look forward to completing the launch of 200 Mbps starting speeds across our entire service area later this year.”

Charter says it “[w]ill automatically increase speeds for current residential customers with Spectrum Internet packages in the coming weeks.” A list of some of the markets getting upgrades can be found here.

Both Charter and Comcast are facing increasing competition on multiple fronts. Traditional telcos are aggressively introducing fiber, which offers the competitive advantage of symmetrical speeds, increasingly of the multi-gig fashion. Comcast faces Verizon Fios in many Northeastern markets.

Wireless companies are also targeting cable companies with fixed wireless offers. As cable companies increase speeds, it seems to address both competitive fronts. Cable companies have largely dismissed the threat from fixed wireless, but raising speeds certainly helps their cause.

The cable industry is on a path to offer multi-gig speeds in both directions. While not symmetrical, these improvements, known as the 10G initiative, will help close the gap with fiber. Until that is widely deployed, we will likely see more of these incremental speed increases to keep their competitors at bay.

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