Comcast makes good on promise of super-speedy broadband

The cable company is launching its new service in Atlanta, which now has three providers offering Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

Talk about an embarrassment of riches.

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Comcast is rolling out its gigabit broadband service in Atlanta, the first city to get its service.

Atlanta will soon have not two, but three companies delivering superfast broadband, defined as 1 gigabit per second, or fast enough to stream all seven "Star Wars" films in ultra high definition without a stutter.

Comcast on Tuesday said it would test its new super-speedy broadband service to a limited number of "early adopters" in several neighborhoods in Atlanta, which promise speeds that are 50 to 100 times faster than what you're likely getting.

It marks the first city that the nation's largest cable provider will offer a gigabit connection. Demand for high-speed Internet has heated up in recent years thanks to Google and AT&T and an ever-increasing appetite for more bandwidth by consumers and businesses. Comcast's leap to gigabit speeds is a departure from the broadband industry's history of gradually increasing speeds, even if the technology was capable of delivering more.

Pricing for the service will be $139 per month without a contract or $70 per month with a three-year contract, although Comcast says more pricing options will come with the broader roll out. Google, which was first to market with a gigabit service in Kansas City, charges $70 for its gigabit broadband service.

In February, the Philadelphia-based cable giant announced it would start delivering the 1 gigabit per second broadband over its existing cable infrastructure to five cities by the end of the year. Nashville, which has planned gigabit networks from AT&T and Google, is next on Comcast's list. It will follow with deployments in Chicago, Detroit and Miami.

"It's no coincidence that the first cities Comcast is going into are where Google and AT&T are building networks," said Blair Levin, who led the Obama administration's efforts to write the National Broadband Plan back in 2010.

The company also expects to continue rolling out service throughout its 40-state territory with the potential to reach 55 million customers within the next two years.

The gigabit trend kicked off five years ago when Google Fiber launched in Kansas City. AT&T followed in 2014.

While Comcast may not be first to market with this new service, the company is likely to be able to deploy the service to more customers more quickly than either AT&T or Google. That's because Comcast is using its existing cable infrastructure rather than laying down new fiber-optic lines like Google or AT&T.

New and current Comcast customers in Atlanta can check the Xfinity.com/gig website to see if they qualify for the trial.

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