If you've been salivating at the prospect of Google Fiber one day moving into your neighborhood, Comcast's just-announced Gigabit Pro service will turn you into a slobbering fool. That's because it runs twice as fast as Google Fiber at 2Gbps, and it's symmetrical, meaning that uploads will be just as fast as downloads. That's relatively rare in the land of broadband, though much more common on fiber connections.
Comcast said it will begin offering its residential multi-gigabit broadband service to more than 1.5 million customers in Atlanta starting next month. There's no mention of price just yet, though Comcast did say it would require installation of professional-grade equipment. Homes that qualify for Gigabit Pro service will also need to be within "close proximity" of Comcast's fiber network.
The 2Gbps rollout will give Atlanta access to the fastest residential broadband service in the country. Both Google and AT&T also offer fiber-to-the-home solutions of their own, but both are currently capped at 1Gbps, half the speed of Comcast's Gigabit Pro service.
Comcast appears to have chosen Atlanta as the initial location because of how densely populated the area is.
"Our approach is to offer the most comprehensive rollout of multi-gigabit service to the most homes as quickly as possible, not just to certain neighborhoods," said Doug Guthrie, SVP of Comcast Cable's South Region. "We already provide the fastest speeds to the most homes and businesses in Atlanta, and access to Gigabit Pro will give our customers all the broadband capacity they need to stay ahead of future technologies and innovations."
The rollout in Atlanta also makes sense because Comcast already has a high-speed presence in the area, as it's been offering businesses multi-gigabit ethernet service up to 10Gbps for the past five years. Plus it gives Comcast a head start over AT&T, which has Atlanta on its fiber roadmap.
Why this matters: Ultra high-speed fiber optic-based Internet service is the next frontier in broadband. Being first in any particular area has obvious advantages, though it remains to be seen if Comcast's Gigabit Pro ends up being cost-prohibitive or competitive with what Google and AT&T are offering in other parts of the country.