It’s funny how a little bit of competition will force a company to wake up realize that its customers have compelling alternative services to consider. We’ve seen that in the past as both AT&T and Time Warner Cable have responded to Google setting up camp in cities across the country with Google Fiber. Comcast even succumbed to the pressure in Atlanta, announcing its 2Gbps Gigabit Pro fiber Internet service in Atlanta (it only did so after Google Fiber was confirmed to be coming to the area).
The competition is now forcing Comcast’s hand in the San Francisco Bay Area. The company announced yesterday that its Gigabit Pro service will now be offered in Central and Northern California beginning in June. Once completely rolled, Gigabit Pro will be available to roughly 3 million residential Comcast customers.
And similar to what Time Warner Cable announced earlier this week, Comcast will also provide free speed boosts for existing customers starting next month. Customers on the Performance tier will see their speeds boosted from 50 Mbps to 75 Mbps and those on the Blast tier will receive a complementary increase from 105 Mbps to 150 Mbps. Comcast is also launching a new Extreme 250 tier which offers speeds of, you guessed it, 250 Mbps speeds.
Comcast CEO Brian Roberts (Source: Flickr)
But if you ask Comcast, the free speed upgrades and the availability of Gigabit Pro isn’t a response to Google Fiber and AT&T Gigapower. Really?! “It’s about what people are doing with the Internet,” explained Comcast spokesman Bryan Byrd. “Clearly, demand has gone up as people stream more and upload more.”
This is a pretty substantial change from Comcast’s claims only two years ago when it said that demand wasn’t strong enough to warrant offering 1Gbps Internet to residential customers. But in two years since those comments, Comcast has somehow managed to scare up enough interest to offer double those speeds to customers.
"This is Comcast’s 15th speed increase in 13 years. We are proud to boost our existing speeds and most importantly introduce new Internet tiers like the Extreme 250 and Gigabit Pro that will allow our California customers to do more online, across multiple devices," said Hank Fore, Regional SVP of Comcast’s California Region. "We will continue to look for opportunities to increase speeds to not only stay ahead of customer demands, but also to provide a wide range of options that meet customer needs."
It was revealed yesterday that the Department of Justice’s antitrust division is close to rejecting the prosed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable. It is unknown how a flat-out rejection of the deal will affect Comcast’s future plans for residential internet upgrades.