Comcast has quietly upgraded "Gigabit Pro," its targeted, fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) residential broadband service, to symmetrical speeds of 3 Gbit/s.
According to a brief update posted to the company's online forum, Comcast has begun to offer 3-Gig speeds in "select" locations, with plans to make 3-Gig speeds available to all Gigabit Pro customers by November 2021.
"Please note that Gigabit Pro is now available with download speeds up to 3 Gbps in select locations. We expect to have 3 Gbps download speeds available to all Gigabit Pro customers by November 2021," Comcast explained in the posting.
Comcast confirmed to Light Reading that the operator began to roll out the 3-Gig speed upgrades in late September in its Northeast and Central regions, and it plans to complete the rollout in its Western region by early November.
Comcast launched Gigabit Pro in 2015, initially offering symmetrical speeds of 2 Gbit/s. Complementing residential broadband services offered on its widely deployed DOCSIS 3.1 network that currently tops out at 1.2 Gbit/s downstream, Gigabit Pro is focused on a small enclave of residential customers who require massive speeds and capacities.
Comcast said it bumped Gigabit Pro speeds up to 3 Gbit/s without a price increase, noting that the service remains at $299.95 per month nationwide. Gigabit Pro continues to require a two-year contract. Additional fees vary by market, but in some cases they run about $1,000 for the associated service and activations fees.
Broadband billboard speeds and bragging rights
Comcast has not announced how many of its 29.4 million residential broadbands customers take the Gigabit Pro service. But the new billboard speed will give the operator bragging rights among fiber-fed ISPs.
Among recent examples, Google Fiber just expanded the reach of a 2 Gbit/s down by 1 Gbit/s upstream service to customers San Antonio, adding it to 2-Gig service launches in Atlanta; Austin; Charlotte and The Triangle, North Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama; Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas); Nashville; Orange County, California; and Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah. Google Fiber sells the 2-Gig service for $100 per month.
Comcast's speed upgrade for Gigabit Pro "reflects the growing importance of fiber lines as customers increasingly desire multi-gig broadband data speeds," GlobalData said in response to the operator's move. GlobalData expects US fiber lines to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 10.8% and reach 28.2 million lines by the end of 2026.
GlobalData likewise expects cable's share of total US fixed broadband subscriptions to dip slightly from 68% in 2021 to 67.1% by the end of 2026 as other technologies, including FTTP and fixed wireless access, expand their reach.
Outside the realm of FTTP, Comcast and other cable operators are pursuing multi-gigabit speeds with their widely deployed hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks. The new DOCSIS 4.0 specifications put cable operators on a path toward 10 Gbit/s downstream and 6 Gbit/s upstream.
Comcast is making some progress, announcing last month it had completed a successful test of a "network to modem" connection of DOCSIS 4.0 technology. That followed an earlier lab trial featuring a chipset from Broadcom that delivered symmetrical speeds of more than 4 Gbit/s.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
A version of this story first appeared on Light Reading.