Bay Area Comcast customers may notice that their Internet service has gotten a good deal zippier.
The cable company announced Tuesday that it has increased the speeds for three of its Internet service tiers for nearly all of its customers in California. Customers of two of those tiers will find that their peak Internet download speeds have doubled. Comcast is offering the speedier access at the same prices as before.
The broadband provider has increased the throughput for its Internet access about 11 times over the years, said company spokesman Bryan Bird.
"Between Skyping, surfing, streaming and everything else, customers continue to want more speed," he said.
The upgrade, which takes effect immediately, applies to customers of the company's Performance, Blast and Extreme 50 service plans.
Performance customers, who currently see speeds of up to 2 megabits per second upstream and 15 megabits per second downstream, will now see upload speeds of up to 4 megabits a second and download speeds of up to 20 megabits per second. Blast customers will see their service ramp from 4 megabits per second upstream and 25 megabits per second downstream to 10 megabits per second up and 50 megabits per second down.
Comcast will automatically upgrade its Extreme 50 customers to its Extreme 105 plan. That service will go from 15 megabits per second upstream and
Extreme 105 will remain Comcast's fastest Internet plan. Customers who previously were paying extra for the Extreme 105 plan will get a price break of up $100 a month, depending on whether they are paying a discounted or regular rate and whether their Internet service is part of a bundle, Bird said.
The company is not increasing the speeds of its lower-end packages, the Performance Starter and Economy Plus tiers.
Comcast customers in Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley won't immediately see the new speeds because the company is upgrading its lines in those areas, Bird said. They should see the speed increases this summer.
To get the new speeds, customers will need to have a cable modem that is compatible with the company's DOCCIS 3.0 technology. Comcast is offering at no extra charge to swap out older modems for ones that are compatible with the new service and speeds. Customers will pay the same monthly rental price for the new modems, Bird said.
The company's announcement comes less than a week after San Jose launched a free Wi-Fi service in downtown. Meanwhile, AT&T announced last fall that it plans to spend about $6 billion a year over the next three years to expand and increase the speeds of its U-Verse Internet service, which competes with Comcast in parts of the Bay Area.
But Bird said Comcast wasn't responding to specific competitive pressures. The company has already rolled out the higher speeds in other parts of the country, he noted.
"This has been in the works for a while now," he said.
The speed boosts should make Comcast's service more attractive to consumers, said Jeff Kagan, an independent broadband industry analyst. Consumers focus on a variety of factors when they shop for telecommunications services, including the speed of the Internet access, he said. He added, though, that the new speed tiers are probably faster than most customers will take advantage of today.
"It's what the customers want," he said. "Is it more than they need? Yes. But customers will eventually catch up."
Contact Troy Wolverton at 408-840-4285. Follow him at Twitter.com/troywolv.
Comcast announced Tuesday it's increasing speeds for some of its Internet customers. Here's how it's changing tiers.
Getting a boost: Customers of the company's Performance, Blast and Extreme 50 packages will see faster speeds. Performance will go from 2 Mbps upstream and 15 Mbps downstream to 4 Mbps up and 20 Mbps down. Blast will go from 4 Mbps up and 25 Mbps down to 10 Mbps up and 50 Mbps down. Extreme 50 customers, meanwhile, will get upgraded to the Extreme 105 service, which will increase their speeds from 15 Mbps up and 50 Mbps down to 20 Mbps up and 105 Mbps down.
Only one Extreme. Before the upgrade, Comcast offered an Extreme 50 and an Extreme 105 package. After the upgrade, it will offer only the Extreme 105 package. Customers who were paying extra for the Extreme 105 package will get a discount of as much as $100 a month.
Low and slow. Comcast is not upgrading the speeds of its two low-end tiers, the Performance Starter and Economy Plus packages. Speeds on those packages will remain 6 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up for Performance Starter and 3 Mbps down and 786 kilobits per second up on Economy Plus.