Kansas City is now a full-blown gigabit market.
Comcast, the dominant cable and internet service in Independence and Olathe, announced Wednesday that it was launching home connections that would deliver speeds up to one gigabit per second.
Less than five years ago, few home customers in the market could buy a hook-up capable of 50 to 100 megabits per second, or a tenth of the bandwidth that Comcast began selling Wednesday.
But then Google Fiber poured hundreds of millions of dollars into a fiber optic network that began delivering gigabit connections to Kansas City, Kan., in late 2012 — the sort of internet previously that might have supported a small college campus or large hospital complex.
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Today, those speeds are still rare for household consumers across the country — but commonplace across the Kansas City market. A full gigabit connection is enough to theoretically stream 40 videos from Netflix at once. With Comcast now selling gigabit connections, a Kansas City area neighborhood without access to fat-pipe bandwidth will be the exception.
Unlike Google Fiber, Comcast’s speed boost won’t require a vast rewiring of neighborhoods and massive construction that tears up lawns and streets. Instead, it relies on DOCSIS (short for Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) 3.1 technology. In most homes, customers will only need to install a new cable modem.
Customers who sign up for a year-long contract will pay a $70 a month promotional rate — the same price Google Fiber introduced five years ago and roughly what its competitors charge. They can get that rate for two years, obligated to buy the service only on a month-by-month service in the second year, the company said in an email. Although Google Fiber recently hiked the cost of its standard TV package by $20 a month, the cost of its gigabit internet remains unchanged. Comcast customers who don’t sign one-year contracts can get the gigabit speeds for $160 a month.
“Additional prices and promotions may be tested in the future,” the company said in a news release Wednesday.
Google Fiber’s service, delivered on more robust fiber optic lines, can move both downloads and uploads at up to 1 gigabit per second. Comcast’s data uploads will cap at 35 megabits per second. It’s selling the faster connections through its Xfinity home service brand.
“With our 1 Gigabit service, customers across Comcast’s suburban Kansas City service area can take advantage of super-fast internet speeds using the existing wiring in their home,” J.D. Keller, Comcast’s regional vice president, said in the release.
In addition to Independence and Olathe, Comcast covers Blue Springs, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Raymore and other suburbs east of Kansas City.
The speed increase for the cities where Comcast is the primary, and sometimes only, selling hard-wired internet and TV service comes as Google Fiber has largely stalled its expansion across the country and in the market. In March, it sent notices to thousands of prospective Kansas City area customers who’d put down deposits that it was refunding their money because the company didn’t know when, or if, it would connect them to the fiber optic network.
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