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Comcast offers 1-gigabit service in SE Mich.

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

Local internet start-ups and online video gamers, get ready.

Comcast is expected to announced Wednesday a 1 gigabit-per-second service for residential and business customers in southeast Michigan.

“We’re delivering gigabit speeds over a network that already passes tens of thousands of homes and businesses across Michigan,” said Tim Collins, senior vice president of Comcast’s Heartland region, in a statement. “As consumers and small businesses continue to rely even more heavily on the internet, we have the advanced technology in place to meet this growing demand.”

The 1 Gigabit Internet service uses a technology called DOCSIS 3.1 that allows Xfinity and Comcast Business internet customers to receive gigabit speeds over the communications lines that most already have in their homes and offices, the company said.

Customers will need a DOCSIS 3.1-capable modem for the service, such as Comcast’s xFi Advanced Gateway. The cost for residential service is $139.95 a month without a contract.

“It is always exciting to witness technology upgrades and associated service enhancements, especially in the telecommunications industry,” said Constantinos Coursaris, an associate professor in the Department of Media and Information at Michigan State University.

The changes are likely to have greater impact for businesses than home users, he said.

“Providing a faster connection from 25 Mbps or even 100 Mbps, which is available to more than 87 percent of Michiganders, will not result in a significant change of how they use the internet,” he said.

Comcast was the first to offer gigabit speeds to the entire city of Detroit.

In 2015, Detroit-based Rocket Fiber launched a fiber-optic gigabit internet service downtown. The company offers up to 1 gigabit upload and download speeds and 10 gigabit internet for $299 a month.

In October 2015, Lansing-based LightSpeed Communications began offering 1-gig service to residents of Detroit Savings Bank Lofts in Capitol Park.

Those most likely to benefit from Comcast’s new service are local internet startups and businesses, said Mosharaf Chowdhury, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan.

“They need very fast connections to the internet, especially companies that handle large volumes of data,” he said. “Also, it will likely benefit users of interactive services, those playing online video games and users who watch ultra-HD video.”

Chowdhury said that having access to higher internet speeds will enable developers to build emerging applications such as distributed virtual and augmented reality. He added that in addition to high bandwidth, consistent bandwidth is just as important.

Sandy Baruah, Detroit Regional Chamber president and CEO, said the availability of 1-gig service across southeast Michigan will attract new businesses and residents to the region.

“Having access to the most advanced technology is critical to our ability to grow this region,” he said.

There will be two speed tiers available to business customers: “Business Internet 1 Gig” and “Business Internet 500.”


Twitter: CWilliams_DN