Comcast to Light Up 250-Meg Broadband Service in Provo

Comcast will soon launch a high-speed Internet tier in Provo, Utah, that will deliver maximum downstream speeds of 250 Mbps and upstream bursts of 50 Mbps for $80, giving the MSO a new weapon to wield against Google Fiber as it takes over, upgrades and prepares to expand the city’s all-fiber iProvo network.

The Free Utopia blog first reported of the plan late last week, citing an unidentified Comcast sales staffer, and noting that the new service will be launched sometime in September. A Comcast spokesman said the MSO had nothing to announce regarding new service plans for Provo.

A person familiar with the plan told Multichannel News Wednesday that the exact launch date has not been set, but added that the new service will ride the MSO’s DOCSIS 3.0 platform. The Free Utopia report said the new service will be offered on a gateway outfitted with 802.11ac, a Wi-Fi platform that is shopping for in-home wireless network speeds in the ballpark of 1 Gbps.

The speediest, announced D3 gateway product from Comcast is a Cisco-made model with dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi on board that can bond up to 16 downstream channels-- enough to deliver theoretical downstream speed bursts of 640 Mbps. The latest D3-certified gateways from Hitron and Netgear can bond 24 channels and max out at almost 1 Gbps. 

Once launched, the 250-meg tier in Provo would represent the fastest service Comcast offers via its DOCSIS 3.0 platform.

Comcast's fastest residential tier, still limited to the Northeast, tops out at 305 Mbps down and 65 Mbps up. But rather than using DOCSIS 3.0, that service, called Xfinity Platinum, runs on Comcast's fiber-fed Metro Ethernet platform, which is typically targeted to business customers.

Google Fiber, which acquired the iProvo assets on July 22 for $1 and a pile of promises, plans to launch its package of 1 Gbps broadband and pay TV services in Provo by the end of the year. Closely mimicking the pricing plan for its Kansas City network, Google Fiber’s 1 Gig service in Utah will run $70 per month, and its 1 Gbps/TV bundle will start at $120 per month.

In August, DSL Reports said Comcast was also cooking up a batch of new triple- and double-play packages in anticipation of competition from Google Fiber.