Comcast launches faster Internet plans, but usage cap remains

Comcast has a slew of dramatically faster Internet subscription packages for residential and business users, however the shadow of the 250GB monthly cap remains for some.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

Communications provider Comcast on Wednesday announced two new tiers of service for heavy residential downloaders, along with speed upgrades for subscribers of its existing services.

The two new plans, dubbed "Extreme" and "Ultra" clock in at 50 and 22 Mbps of downstream respectively and 10 and 5 Mbps of upstream. Comparatively, customers of Comcast's "performance" plans are getting a big jump from 8 to 16 Mbps on the downspeed, however, upload performance remains at 2 Mbps.

The speed bumps, which are being rolled out to 10 major markets between now and next year come at a cost. The somewhat confusingly named Extreme and Ultra tiers come in at $139.95 and $62.95 a month, amounting to an annual cost close to $1,700 a year for subscribers of the Extreme--nearly three times that of Comcast's standard monthly residential service.

Alongside these residential tiers, Comcast is also introducing a new business tier called "Premium," which comes in at 22/5 Mbps down/up for $99.95 a month, as well as beefing up its Deluxe tier to match the Ultra plan at 50/10 Mbps down/up for $189.95 a month. Meanwhile, the "Starter" business tier has received a similar speed bump to that of the residential plans, moving from 6 to 12 Mbps.

So quickly--to sum up the new and updated plans:

Residential services
(new) Extreme 50 (50/10 Mbps down/up) - $139.95/month
(new) Ultra (22/5 Mbps down/up) - $62.95/month
Performance Plus (16/2 Mbps down/up) $52.95/month
Performance (12/2 Mbps down/up) - $42.95/month

Business services
Deluxe 50 (50/10 Mbps down/up) - $189.95/month
(new) Premium (22/5 Mbps down/up) - $99.95/month
Starter (12/2 Mbps down/up) - Price unknown

Cost aside, what may be the most controversial aspect of this speed bump is that subscribers of the residential plans will get no higher cap over the 250GB monthly limit which was instated earlier this October. Comcast's own release prides the new Extreme plan on letting customers "download a high-def movie (6 GB) in about 16 minutes, a standard-def movie (2 GB) in about 5 minutes and a standard-def TV show (300 MB) in a matter of seconds." Do the math and you'll see that an extreme subscriber could easily blow past the 250 GB cap in a matter of hours.

Comcast's PR representative Charlie Douglas tells me the cap will remain in place for residential customers, although for right now business customers are free to go over that. Any potential residential customers who think they may go over, the slightly more expensive business tiers might offer a safe haven from having your heavy bandwidth habit limited.