Comcast cable customers in 40 million homes in major U.S. markets can now download a high-definition, four-gigabyte movie in five minutes, or a 10-song album in just three seconds via Extreme 105 Xfinity broadband, the company announced Thursday. The high-speed connection is available in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Chicago, Miami, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and most of Boston. But Comcast is not available in the biggest mass-media market in North America, New York.
Company spokesperson Charlie Douglas said he had no time frame for the complete rollout of the service to Comcast's more than 51 million homes. "There will be additional cities that will come online in the future," he said. "Our goal is to continue to introduce 105 to all of the markets where we've introduced DOCSIS 3.0 technology."
Extreme 105 promises a connection speed of up to 105 megabits per second and a far-slower 10 megabits per second for uploads.
"This speed tier continues to expand our portfolio of Internet service offerings and takes them up to a whole new level," said Cathy Avgiris, senior vice president and general manager of communications and data services. "With it, we're powering the home of the future, where entire families using multiple devices -- laptops, gaming consoles, tablets, smartphones -- can all take advantage of high-bandwidth applications simultaneously, ensuring they each have a great online experience."
The price is on the extreme side, too: $105 per month -- more than triple a low-price, slower Comcast broadband plan. And that price would rise after an introductory 12 months as part of Comcast's Triple Play with cable and phone service.
Comcast is also offering a stand-alone service for Extreme 105 for $199.95. The post-promotion price is being tested in different markets, Douglas said, and can range from $129.95 per month to $149.95.
The Extreme 105 price, which includes a Wi-Fi router, is cheaper than the top-tier plan from Verizon's FiOS, which promises speeds up to 50 Mbps for downloads and up to 20 Mbps for uploads for $139.95.
Looking at some other Comcast rivals, AT&T's U-Verse broadband advertises a top download speed of 24 Mbps and an upload speed of three Mbps for $65 a month, while the top plan for Optimum Online from Cablevision promises up to 101 Mbps downstream and up to 15 Mbps upstream for $105.
For Hi-Def Fans
"Comcast is obviously targeting high-def aficionados with the service, but it could also make great sense for families with digitally enabled kids who are multimedia fans," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "It wouldn't be surprising to see Extreme show up in Comcast's small-business offerings. Cable TV plus enough bandwidth to support a small office could be an attractive option for many companies."
Comcast says a 4GB movie download would take 90 minutes using a more common six Mbps connection and a standard definition (1.5GB) movie would take half an hour, instead of two minutes. Actual download times may vary, a disclaimer warns.