Comcast Offers New High-Speed Internet Access

Bob Preston
PHILADELPHIA — After putting a cap on how much consumers can surf the web, Comcast is now trying to help them surf faster.

The Internet service provider will soon start offering what it's calling "Extreme 50" Internet speed. Provided they pay enough, consumers will be able to download information at speeds of up to 50MB per second.

For perspective, such speeds would let consumers download a high-definition movie in 16 minutes and a standard definition movie in five minutes. Consumers will be able to buy this service for will cost $139.95 a month, while businesses will have to pay $189.95 per month.

A secondary plan, called "Ultra," offers speeds of up to 22MB per second. Individuals will be able to buy this service for $62.95 a month, businesses for $99.95 a month.

All of these plans require customers to sign up for Comcast's cable TV service.

Analysts reacted to this new offer with some skepticism. Tech writer Brennon Slattery noted the irony in Comcast offering super-speedy Internet access on the heels of an overall download cap.

"Yet the download cap problem persists, making these upped speeds akin to dangling a carrot above a heavy downloader before pulling it away at the last minute," he wrote for "Those choosing the Extreme 50 plan can enjoy unheard-of speeds until they hit 250GB; after that, they run the risk of having their account shut down for a calendar year."

On Oct. 1, Comcast enacted a 250GB cap on the amount of information customers could upload and download from the Internet.

Comcast is the second-largest Internet service provider in the country. They said that they enacted this policy in response to their customers.

"We've listened to feedback from our customers who asked that we provide a specific threshold for data usage and this would help them understand the amount of usage that would qualify as excessive," the company said in a statement.

Comcast mentioned no kind of fees or penalties for users who exceed the bandwidth cap. Furthermore, the company assured customers that 250GB of bandwidth would let an average customer download 125 standard-definition movies before reaching the ceiling.

But not everyone's convinced. NichePay's Media told XBIZ that he would be in danger of hitting a 250GB ceiling because he does so much work from his home office.

"I think its one of the stupidest moves that a cable company can make," he said. "To deny your customers true unlimited downloads when their service is already capped at a download speed without a throttle. If you want to stop people from downloading so much then don't allow the high megabit per second accounts they give to people. It makes it redundant sort of. They're basically controlling the way a surfer surfs. They want to offer all these bells and whistles to people, yet keep them on a leash. 'You can have blazing fast internet as long as you don't download a lot of content.'"

On the other hand, Playboy webmaster Brett Gilliat, aka Vendzilla, told XBIZ that he figured it would be hard for most people to ever reach 250GB per month.