Comcast targets first markets it will offer gigabit over copper cable service

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Comcast announced today that Atlanta and Nashville would be its first two markets to offer DOCSIS 3.1 technology, in “early 2016,” and that Chicago, Detroit and Miami would join them in the second half of the year.

DOCSIS 3.1 is a new wired cable Internet standard, which gives Comcast the ability to offer gigabit speeds over existing copper cable. The latest version of the standard uses smaller subcarrier channels that use considerably less bandwidth than those of DOCSIS 3.0, bonding those subchannels together for greater efficiency. The company said that it tested the technology last month in its home market of Philadelphia.

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Comcast central division president Bill Connors said in a statement that DOCSIS 3.1 technology would eventually be deployed more broadly.

“Combined with all the upgrades we have already put into our advanced fiber optic-coax network, this technology will not only provide more gigabit speed choices for customers, it will also eventually make these ultra-fast speeds available to the most homes in our service areas,” he said.

The advantages of the new standard are straightforward enough – with ever-rising demand for bandwidth, even among residential customers, the ability to offer gigabit-speed connections without the costly and labor-intensive installation of new fiber lines is a potentially major advantage.

Pricing was not immediately announced, although a Comcast spokesperson did confirm that the new service would cost less than the existing, fiber-based Gigabit Pro service, which offers similar speeds for $300 per month. However, the spokesperson wouldn’t comment further on future markets for DOCSIS 3.1 service, saying only that the company is “focused on our first markets.”

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