Google and AT&T have been slowly rolling 1Gbps fiber Internet services across the United States. Google struck the first blow when it launched Google Fiber in Kansas City, Kansas, and AT&T has followed suit as Google Fiber’s shadow in many markets (and in markets where Google is not already available, AT&T has seen fit to price gouge customers). Now, both AT&T and Google are about to get some competition from Comcast, which is set to launch an even faster fiber-based service this year starting in Atlanta, Georgia.
Starting next month, 1.5 million Atlanta metro area residents will have access to Gigabit Pro, Comcast’s fiber Internet service that will offer symmetrical (upload/download) speeds of 2Gbps. Comcast South Region VP Doug Guthrie poked Google a bit with the announcement, stating that its Gigabit Pro service would be extensible to all Comcast customers and “not just to certain neighborhoods.”
"Our approach is to offer the most comprehensive rollout of multi-gigabit service to the most homes as quickly as possible,” Guthrie continued. "We already provide the fastest speeds to the most homes and businesses in Atlanta, and access to Gigabit Pro will give our customers all the broadband capacity they need to stay ahead of future technologies and innovations."
In order to gain access to Gigabit Pro, Comcast says that customers will need to be “within close proximity” to it fiber network and that the service “will require an installation of professional-grade equipment.” By the end of 2015, around 18 million homes across the U.S. will have access to Gigabit Pro.
Comcast brags that it has been at the forefront of laying down fiber across its service areas, and has a national fiber backbone that stretches 145,000 miles. It is because of this investment that Comcast will be able to offer a “slower” 1Gbps service to customers using DOCSIS 3.1 in early 2016. Once the network is fully deployed, Comcast will be able to offer at least 1Gbps speeds to nearly every customer that it serves.
Given Google’s more measured approach to Google Fiber deployments — and the resistance it has faced from local governments — we may actually see Comcast taking the lead in fiber Internet in the coming years.