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Verizon intros 150Mbps broadband on Fios

Verizon Communications is now offering 150Mbps download speeds on its Fios broadband service for $195 a month.

Verizon Communications is now offering its Fios customers a new service that delivers 150Mbps download speeds and uploads of 35 Mbps.

The company announced today that consumers in its Fios fiber-to-the-home territory are now eligible for the new service. Small-business customers will be eligible for the service by the end of the year.

Verizon has been pushing the envelope in terms of broadband speeds since it began offering the fiber-to-the-home Fios service. The faster broadband is overkill for most people, but Verizon said that speeds such as these will be necessary as Americans adopt more bandwidth-intensive activities such as 3D video streaming.

The company said that with the 150Mbps download speeds, a two-hour, high-definition movie could be downloaded in four and a half minutes. Downloading 20 high-resolution photographs (100MB) would take less than five and a half seconds using the 150/35 Mbps service. And the 35Mbps upstream speed would allow users to upload those same 20 high-resolution photos in less than 23 seconds.

While not everyone will need the increased speed, Verizon believes that the service sets the stage for the next generation of broadband.

"By offering the fastest mass-market Internet service in the nation, we're supporting the immediate and future speed needs of bandwidth-hungry consumers," Eric Bruno, Verizon vice president of product management, said in a statement. "The new 150/35 Mbps FiOS Internet offer establishes a new benchmark for high-speed Internet in America and paves the way for a flurry of emerging bandwidth-intensive applications to reach mainstream status."

The Federal Communications Commission has a goal of getting 100Mbps connections to 100 million homes over the next decade. But it might be difficult for everyone in the U.S. to get to those speeds. Fios broadband is currently only available to 12.5 million people. And Verizon expects to be able to make the service available to 18 million customers by the end of 2010. Still, this is only a small percentage of the entire U.S. population. There are currently 115 million households in the U.S., according to the most recent census estimates.

Cable companies will be able to reach the bulk of Americans with fast broadband speeds as they upgrade their networks to the faster DOCSIS 3.0 technology. This rollout, which should be completed by most cable companies in the U.S. by 2013, should be able to offer downloads of 50Mbps and 100Mbps. Some cable providers, such as Cablevision, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable are already offering 50Mbps-and-beyond services.

But even though faster services will be available, it will likely be too expensive for many consumers. For example, Verizon's new 150Mbps service costs $194.99 far beyond what most consumers can afford for broadband service.

This means that Verizon and other broadband providers will continue to offer slower services. Verizon's slowest tier of service on the Fios infrastructure offers 15 Mbps downloads and 5 Mbps uploads for $55 a month without being linked to a special voice and TV bundle. Other broadband providers also offer slower services for much less. For example, Cox Communications offers a 1Mbps download/256Kbps upload service for $23 a month.