Comcast begins offering higher speed Internet

Chicago (IL) – Starting today, residents in the San Jose-Silicon Valley area, portions of the East Bay, and the Monterrey-Salinas area near San Francisco will be able to access wideband 50 Mbps Internet services. Businesses in the same areas will have access beginning on March 10.

Comcast’s first announcement for Wideband came at CES in early 2008, and the service was delivered initially to customers in St. Paul, Minneapolis in April 2008, and then expanded to Boston, southern New Hampshire, and areas of Philadelphia and New Jersey in October. Oregon and Southwest Washington received the service in December. And just last month, Comcast announced they would be growing their DOCSIS 3.0 wideband service footprint which currently sits at 30% market penetration, to 65% by the end of 2009.

On Tuesday, Comcast announced the San Francisco bay area will be the next to receive 50 Mbps wideband service. Steve White, senior VP of Comcast’s California region, said in a statement, “Wideband utilizes our existing fiber-optic network in neighborhoods across our footprint. With this next generation of service, our customers’ online experience is dramatically enhanced.”

Residential customers can purchase the service in two different tiers: Ultra and Extreme 50.

Ultra will be priced at $62.95/month and will deliver 22 Mbps of download speed and up to 5 Mbps of upload speed. The Extreme 50 option will be priced at $139.95/month and will deliver up to 50 Mbps of download speed and 10 Mbps of upload speed, slightly more than doubling the Ultra service. These prices are only available to customers who also pay for Comcast’s cable service.

The service was made available to the following cities as of yesterday:

San Jose-Silicon Valley area (Alviso, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Mount Hamilton, Mountain View, Saratoga, San Jose, Santa Clara and Sunnyvale), portions of the East Bay (Alamo, Antioch, Bay Point, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Castro Valley, Clayton, Clyde, Concord, Danville, Diablo, Discovery Bay, Dublin, Knightsen, Lafayette, Livermore, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Orinda, Pacheco, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hills, Pleasanton, Rossmoor, San Ramon, Sunol and Walnut Creek) and the Monterey-Salinas area (Carmel, Carmel Valley, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, Salinas, Sand City, Seaside and Spreckels).

At 50 Mbps download speeds, Comcast’s 250 GB/month cap could theoretically be reached in just over 11 hours (6.25 MB/s, taking 40,000 seconds, which is 667 minutes).

Until the ISPs begin removing caps, having such high-bandwidth is not going to do much for power-users.