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Comcast Takes 3-Mbps Plunge

Comcast Corp. announced Thursday that it is doubling the downstream speed for its high-speed Internet subscribers to 3 megabits per second in 14 markets, and it will transition over the majority of its other systems by year-end at no extra cost.

The news follows Time Warner Cable's announcement that it will increase its speed to 3 mbps Oct. 1.

Cox Communications Inc. already offers 3-mbps service to its high-speed-data subscribers, and Adelphia Communications Corp. is testing 3 mbps in many markets.

The decisions mean that at least 75% of U.S. cable-modem subscribers will be getting 3-mbps service by Christmas.

Comcast tested the service in Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Knoxville, Tenn., over the summer. Systems in Detroit; Hattiesburg and Meridian, Miss.; Independence, Mo.; Lake County, Fla.; Mobile and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Muncie, Ind.; Panama City, Fla.; and Dallas and Savannah, Ga., will join the test markets at 3 mbps.

Comcast said it will add new markets as they are upgraded. Subscribers in the 14 markets need only to unplug their modems, wait 60 seconds, then plug them back in to upgrade their speed, the MSO said. Upstream speeds will remain at 256 kilobits per second.

But some of cable's competition is responding. RCN Corp. said it is increasing the speed for its high-speed subscribers to 5 mbps at no added cost.

"We launched our 3-mbps modem, ‘MegaModem,’ over a year ago in response to overwhelming customer demand for higher speed," RCN chairman and CEO David C. McCourt said. " I am proud to announce that we are once again raising the bar in the industry by offering ‘MegaModem Mach 5,’ our 5-mbps modem."

RCN said its 1.5-mbps subscribers will be upgraded to 3 mbps Oct. 15, while current 3-mbps subscribers will see their speeds increase to 5 mbps.

In related news, Comcast and Terayon Communication Systems Inc. said they are moving into phase two of testing Terayon's Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 2.0 cable-modem-termination system.

The next testing phase will cover provisioning, operating-profile selection and system integration.