Comcast to begin 100 mbps residential broadband this year

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Kudos to Comcast for embracing the year 2009. The nation’s largest—and quite possibly worst—ISP has finally committed itself to deploying 100 mbps broadband beginning this year. That will make the FCC happy, what with the loft goals it set with its National Broadband Plan. It’s also good news for people who know their way around things like Usenet—taps nose like a spy. Will it be affordable, though?

The big rollout will happen within the next 12 to 18 months. Most, if not all, of Comcast’s customers will be able to sign up for the super-fast service. You can thank DOCSIS 3.0 for that.

Price may be an issue. Right now, Comcast offers 100 mbps down/15 mbps up service to business customers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area for $369 per month. There’s no way you’re going to convince residential customers in this economy to shell out nearly $400 a month for Internet access, no matter how fast—that’s the price of two car payments. Now you’d have to figure that not even Comcast would be that silly to charge that kind of money for residential Internet access. I don’t know what’s involved with business-level Internet access at Comcast, but presumably it comes with free ostrich egg omelets once a week.

For comparison’s sake, I already have 100 mbps Internet access from Cablevision, an ISP in the New York area. For $100 per month I get 101 (!) mbps down/15 mbps up. I am, in fact, able to max out my connection when using Usenet (I have Newsdemon). But a fair warning to people who think the Internet is magically going to fly once they hop aboard the 100 mbps train: it won’t. Sites like YouTube are still dog-slow, Gmail isn’t any faster than it is using your regular broadband connection. In a sense, you’re faster than what these sites can handle. That will change over time, of course, but don’t think getting 100 mbps is going to change your life if all you do is check your Facebook and watch the occasional YouTube clip.

It’s sorta weird: sites won’t upgrade their capacity until there’s enough people with super-fast connections to make it worth their while, and it may not be worth it to the average person to upgrade, and perhaps pay $100 per month, until it’s worth their while.

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