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Comcast Offers A 'PowerBoost’ To Modem Subs

The idea of bandwidth on demand is at the heart of a new feature Comcast Corp. has been quietly rolling out in the past few weeks, offering customers a bonus bandwidth boost if there is excess network capacity.

The operator is using a home-grown technology that can dole out excess network capacity among all cable-modem customers, providing as much as twice the bandwidth of their service tier at no extra charge.

Already up and running in several markets, “PowerBoost” gives customers tapping the 6 Megabit-per-second Comcast High Speed Internet service a boost to 12 Mbps, and those using the 8 Mbps service can receive speeds of 16 Mbps.

Comcast can do so because the network is designed to handle far more customers simultaneously using their cable-modem connection than actually do so at any given time, even during high-usage evening hours, spokeswoman Jeanne Russo said.

While Comcast has not promoted the feature, in the markets where it has been quietly rolled out “we’ve seen a lot of feedback in the forums and the customers are noticing it,” she said.

Comcast president Steve Burke mentioned PowerBoost in remarks at a conference in Carlsbad, Calif., last week sponsored by The Wall Street Journal. Burke spoke confidently of the company’s broadband data and telephone revenue prospects and said “fear of Internet bypass” of the core multichannel video service “is not a realistic fear for us.”