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Networking

Comcast Offers 50 Mbps Residential Speeds 332

Posted by kdawson
from the time-for-fios-leapfrog dept.
An anonymous reader notes that Comcast is offering a new 50-Mbps / 6-Mbps package for residential customers for $150, starting in Minneapolis-St. Paul and extending nationwide by mid-2010. The new service will use the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which is nearing ratification. We've recently discussed Comcast's BitTorrent throttling and promise to quit it, and their low-quality 'HD' programming. How attractive will $150 for 50 Mbps be compared to Verizon's FiOS offerings?
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Comcast Offers 50 Mbps Residential Speeds

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  • WoW (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ariastis (797888) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:48AM (#22951364)
    50 mbps, throttled, copied to the NSA, squeezed on the same cable as too many HD channels.

    Where do I send my 150$ again?
    • Re:WoW (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:54AM (#22951436) Homepage
      You also forgot, it's also probably not 50mbps.

      They sell the "8meg" tier here but the pipe to the headend cant handle the 8meg so if you do any speed tests OUTSIDE their reccomended you never get more than 4.4-5.

      • by MrCrassic (994046)

        To add to this, I think it will be a while before most people will see the benefits of having a 50/6 connection over something slightly slower, say 15/5, which is cheaper and usually comes with better offerings.

        Append that to Comcast's already-shaky reputation as an internet and cable provider, and I think that Verizon still has a better odds of attracting more fiber-optic broadband converts. Plus, Verizon offers television service with their fast internet plans; so far as I know, Comcast doesn't.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by spydum (828400)
        Open multiple streams. That speed limitation is based on a single tcp session, which is almost entirely latency and MTU size induced (remember that formula? if not, google it). Hasn't anyone been paying attention? Why do you think you get such awesome bit torrent speeds? It's MANY tcp sessions, all streaming at once (rarely do you see a single stream over the net pushing more than 1-2Mbit/sec).
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jandrese (485)
          You are probably thinking of the Bandwidth Delay Product [wikipedia.org], but if that's a problem you can usually tweak your stack get better performance. Typically, fast hosts are also lower latency on the internet, so it's not a huge problem. Hosts with high latency are almost always slow anyway.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Really? I see that all the time. As long as I choose the right hosts I rarely have any trouble saturating my 5mbps connection with a single stream.
      • Conversely I have 9meg from Cox, and I actually get close to those speeds.

        It is PFM that a company delivers on what they're selling you!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Danathar (267989)

        You also forgot, it's also probably not 50mbps.

        They sell the "8meg" tier here but the pipe to the headend cant handle the 8meg so if you do any speed tests OUTSIDE their reccomended you never get more than 4.4-5.

        Don't know where you are. I subscribe to that service and I've been getting consistent 2MB/s (that's right...2 Megabytes) downstream and a solid 2 Megabit upstream.

        The thing with cable is it's all about location. If you are in an area with nobody but you in your local "group" then more than likely you be in sweet bandwidth heaven.

        If you are on a street with 10 15 year olds downloading every 720p/1080i movie via bittorrent your bandwidth is probably going to suck.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ShannaraFan (533326)
        Not trying to defend Comcast, but this statement simply isn't true, at least not in the Twin Cities area. I'm on the current top-tier offering from Comcast, and I routinely see 12-15Mbps results using Speakeasy's speed test. There ARE times that I don't, of course.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Mister Whirly (964219)
          The Speakeasy speed test numbers can be fudged by Comcasts "Speedboost" technology. Downloading really large files and taking an average over a period of time is the only real accurate way to know what kind of sustained speeds you are getting. Peak speeds are not a good indication.
      • How many gigabytes was it again, after which they try to demonize you as some great evil predator that ruins everyone else's Internet? I mean, yippee. You get 50 MB/s and you get disconnected if you use it for an hour.
      • by DragonHawk (21256) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:17PM (#22952512) Homepage Journal
        This sub-thread cracks me up. Wow, different people get different results.

        News flash: Internet not really one giant network, but a bunch of little ones connected together. Performance varies by source, destination, intermediate route, and concurrent demand. This discovery expected to cause imminent death of the 'net.

        (Consider the obligatory "series of tube" joke already made.)
  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:49AM (#22951366)
    What good is 50Mbps... If you are unable to P2P?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by daskro (973768)
      While I can't speak for every city Comcast provide service for, the business class service never suffered from the p2p doom and gloom that has been touted for months on end. I would suspect that Comcast would treat this $150.00 a month service as a business class line.
    • by nurb432 (527695)
      Considering everything is really p2p if you dig deep enough... your attempt at a joke is actually a serious comment.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:49AM (#22951368)
    You know, as much as I would love Natalie Portman, I would settle for Natasha Henstridge if she's all I could get in my neighborhood.

    In other words, if you live in an area not covered by FIOS, it's as attractive as you're going to get, buddy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by chitokutai (758566)
      So in other words, Episode 1 or Species? Yikes!
      • by jank1887 (815982)
        depends... are you going for "bad movie" or "bad movie with partial nudity"?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jgarra23 (1109651)

          depends... are you going for "bad movie" or "bad movie with partial nudity"?


          At least with the partial nudity you also get an amusing storyline, Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley and a movie that goes someplace. with the "bad movie" you get some fake-good actor like "Liam Neeson" the WORST fanbase of anything in the world, and a move that goes NOWEHERE
    • by BoberFett (127537) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:17AM (#22951716)
      I wish I could get FIOS in Minneapolis, but I doubt it's going to happen any time soon. I cancelled Comcast for being such a crappy ISP a couple years ago and went with 1.5M/768K DSL. It's slower, but the service is far better.

      At any rate, I'm not going back to Comcast even if they offer me 150/50. They're a horrible company to deal with.
    • by Stripe7 (571267)
      However FIOS is looking more attractive to me as it becomes available here because of Comcast fiddling with bandwidth and lowering the HD quality of their channels. I prefer to get what I pay for, in particular bandwidth and HD programming, not a % of the bandwidth I pay for and badly degraded HD programming.
    • by Lisandro (799651)
      I would settle for Natasha Henstridge

      Dude! Can i hang out with you?!
    • Of course thats assuming they offer this service to you, which they likely won't. Take a look at some US-wide comcast speedtests sometime -- I've seen them range from ~3mbits to ~15mbits. If theres nobody competing with them locally, they have no financially incentive to upgrade their lines or offer better packages.
  • caps? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Neil Watson (60859) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:50AM (#22951374) Homepage
    And the monthly GB limits are?
  • by ChuBie (945413) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:51AM (#22951378)
    Forget advertising about a new 50 Mbps speed that you may only see 5 of during peak times. I want to see a company advertise their guaranteed speeds for that class of service along with the peak you might hit at 4am.
    • by thanatos_x (1086171) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:01AM (#22951522)

      That's going against the general notion of the packet switching, and quite difficult/expensive for the company to do (especially from an advertising standpoint.)

      Perhaps a good compromise would be disclosing the total bandwidth available for a given street/town/etc and the number of users. Also average speeds during peak hours would be useful, or in general an explicit policy on bandwidth usage- you get X gb /time period, or you get X gb /month at 50 Mbps before you get moved down to lower priority (bandwidth is capped unless there is low usage.)
      • by interiot (50685)

        Long before that happens though, customers will collect their own information and post it online.

        If there was a program that kept track of when you max out your upstream or downstream, and tried to characterize what might be triggering any throttling, that'd be very useful information to post online.

        Then, if you could set up a DOCSIS sniffer [paperlined.org] and collect similar data from everyone in your neighborhood, you'd have heaps of useful data.

      • by zappepcs (820751) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:20AM (#22951778) Journal
        I'm sorry, NOT! If Comcast built their network correctly to begin with, the infrastructure COULD handle specific bandwidth requirements that could in turn be advertised correctly.

        The advertised vs. actual problem occurs when the architecture of the network is itself sloppy, and relies on end users never testing their bandwidth at the same time. Generally, this works, but is NOT good for guaranteed QoS.

        If every neighborhood WAN/Ring was set up with 2x the required network feeding it you would get reduced speed during an outage and guaranteed bandwidth possibilities. The problem is that requires upgrades, and we know that won't happen till some pork toting politicians says the county/state will pay for it.

        Current and previous network designs were vamped up analog cable tv networks (read as router jammed in outdoor cabinet somewhere in the neighborhood) the cable companies went into the network business with less than suitable design and staff and winged it. The public is now happy to have the less than optimal service that was offered rather than demanding 'you can hear a pin drop' quality.

        50Mbps is what I would equate to high end, but I'm willing to bet that the QoS is NO better than dialup, just faster most of the time. If the QoS was better, they'd advertise it.

        What this means is that the cheapest upgrade to crap old equipment came with a huge bandwidth increase by default. They could give you a QoS guaranteed 15Mb/3Mb and setup the network to produce that... but nope, not happening. It 'SOUNDS' so much better to say **50Mbps**

        It's nothing but marketing droid bs.
        • by Smidge204 (605297)

          I'm sorry, NOT! If Comcast built their network correctly to begin with, the infrastructure COULD handle specific bandwidth requirements that could in turn be advertised correctly.

          And what happens when the source of the slow-down is external to your ISP's infrastructure? This, I think, is the real problem with "guaranteeing" connection speeds.

          You might be able to guarantee YOUR network, but Joe Shmoe isn't going to understand the difference when his favorite website gets slashdotted and takes forever to load. Then the lawyers come out.

          The only solution is to put that little * next to the speed on the advert and not actually guarantee anything.
          =Smidge=

          • by zappepcs (820751)
            I've been in a business that guarantees bandwidth and latency for some 20 years. YES you can guarantee just your portion of it.

            What you are saying is that end users are too fucking stupid to learn how it works. While I'll agree that there are some who are, people in general are smart enough to understand a simple explanation of how it works.

            Car analogy: You can guaranteed highway speeds capabilities of 120mph on a car. Do people sue Ford because they can't go over 70mph in their mustang?

            No matter which way
        • You make some good points however the general public isn't paying for a 99.99% 90% of quoted capacity or something. They are just paying for "up to 50Mbps".

          Does this suck? Yeah, because the average Joe is going to take his 4.5GB DVD divide by the speed (lets be honest here, he will usually divide by 50MBps not 50Mbps) and say hey I can get that DVD in roughly one and a half minutes. A big challenge is that our connections aren't symetric which isn't very good for P2P. You can't download as fast as you hav

        • by Hatta (162192)
          The problem is that requires upgrades, and we know that won't happen till some pork toting politicians says the county/state will pay for it.

          We already did pay for it [pbs.org]. We were promised 45megabit bidirectional connections. We gave the telco's over 200 billion dollars for it. That money was stolen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      AT&T will do that for you right now.

      It
      's called buying a T1 or a T3 or even a OC48 if you want the bandwidth.

      you gotta pay for it.
    • Give me "up to" 50 mbps and I'll gladly pay "up to" $150/month...
  • Fine print (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hyppy (74366) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:52AM (#22951410)
    50Mbps*

    fine print -
    *: for only the first 10 seconds of any sustained transaction. Additional fees and restrictions apply. Bandwidth advertised will be dropped to dial-up speeds when used for any protocol not essential to the viewing of a common web page.
    • by IBBoard (1128019)

      dropped to dial-up speeds when used for any protocol not essential to the viewing of a common web page.


      Anyone feel like trying to write Apache to run over BitTorrent for serving web pages? :D
  • by doti (966971) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @10:53AM (#22951418) Homepage
    Nice, and the new reply system is great, but I think there's too much vertical space wasted by the gray "Replay to This" and "Parent" buttons.
    • by EMeta (860558) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:07AM (#22951576)
      Agreed. Need option to change it back. When it was just text it looked a lot more like I was working while reading /.
      • by Ilgaz (86384) *
        As we are supposed to speak about Comcast, I remembered Azureus bittorrent client. ;)

        It has "Use fancy tabs" setting in advanced mode. Slashdot may have "Use Fancy buttons" which thousands of geeks will disable.
    • by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:10AM (#22951622)

      It's the whitespace between the comment and the buttons that does it. Put the following in your user stylesheet:

      .commentBody {
      padding-bottom: 0 !important;
      }
      • .commentBody {
                padding-bottom: 0 !important;
                }


        And a similar modification for those who aren't OpenStep fans, or are otherwise interested in the content without being unecessarily distracted (several hundred times per article) by giant "Reply To" buttons?
    • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:15AM (#22951690)
      Why are those even "buttons" the old linkable text was fine before.
    • by rho (6063)

      Doesn't look so bad in light mode.

    • by fm6 (162816)
      A minor issue. The big waste of vertical space is meandering, clueless, "who cares" subthreads.

      We need to have a way to just jump past long threads we're not interested in. The Slashdotter Firefox plugin used to provide this, in the form of a "hide replies" feature. But that plugin is pretty much dead -- I guess the author got tired of trying to keep up with endless HTML tweaks.

      What new reply system? I don't see anything really different.
    • by jo42 (227475)

      offtopic: the new design
      Dear /.

      April 1st was 2 days ago. Please give us back the previous look. The new look has these gawd awful thick box borders around posts, way too much white space thus less information presented forcing more scrolling.

      Please don't drink more "Web 2.0" Kool-Aid as it makes you rather stupid.
  • Virgin Media are always trying to push their high-speed service, but they all include throttling after you have downloaded any significant amount of data. If you buy a TV show from ITunes and download it, you will suddenly find your speed switched right down.
  • by Tsu-na-mi (88576) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:01AM (#22951526) Homepage
    How attractive will $150 for 50 Mbps be compared to Verizon's FiOS offerings?

    50Mb sounds nice, but if they cut you off after 100GB per month for "excessive traffic", what good is it?
    • What I find more interesting is that they skipped any intermediary options in pricing and bandwidth. For example FIOS has a 5 by 2 for 40 dollars , 15 by 2 for 50 dollars and a 30 by 30(I think) for 180 dollars. Why the hell didn't Comcast offer a reasonably price intermediate speed on the order of 15Mbps up and 2Mbps down like Verizon did?

      It seems very stupid to me but on the other hand what else would you expect from a company that uses it's own name as an adjective?
    • by Danathar (267989)
      More than likely they up the cap for the higher speeds. From what I've read they do that with each of the other tiered plans.
    • by Muad'Dave (255648)
      ...what good is it?



      It's good for about 4 hours, 26 minutes, and 40 seconds. On the first day of the month.

  • by bcwright (871193) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:07AM (#22951578)
    I live in fairly large metropolitan area (> 1 million) which is served by Verizon, however because most of the rest of the state is served by another provider our little island is treated by Verizon as one of their "ugly stepchildren." It appears unlikely that we'll get FiOS from Verizon before 2020, if then. (That's not a misprint BTW). In addition, there are lots of places that aren't even served by Verizon for local phone service. Given that Verizon is not interested in our money, if Comcast can provide that kind of service here I think they may well get a lot of subscribers.
    • by imstanny (722685)

      I live in fairly large metropolitan area (> 1 million) which is served by Verizon, however because most of the rest of the state is served by another provider our little island is treated by Verizon as one of their "ugly stepchildren." It appears unlikely that we'll get FiOS from Verizon before 2020, if then.

      If I read that 2 days ago, I would've beleived you. I live in a suburban area which has always been slow in adopting broadband. Cable companies kept promising "within the next year" for mroe than half a decade. I ended up upgrading to DSL, then Cable. I've been checking availability of Verizon Fios for about a year now, with a similar message. However, I decided to check yesterday and it is available!

      Not sure about national deployment, but Verizon definately beat my expectations. It's a huge project and

  • FIOS is cheaper. FIOS doesn't throttle the shit out of your uploads. I expect Comcast will avoid taking this product to markets where FIOS is available.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arbiter1 (1204146)

      FIOS is cheaper. FIOS doesn't throttle the shit out of your uploads. I expect Comcast will avoid taking this product to markets where FIOS is available.
      they don't throttle you YET! gotta remember during this how time fcc been on comcast case verizon was one companies backing comcast's side.
  • Can I run a server? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jc42 (318812) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:11AM (#22951628) Homepage Journal
    Among my questions about Internet service is whether I'm permitted to run my own servers. I have a site (with several domain names) on which I provide net space for a small collection of friends and relatives. Nothing terribly commercial, except marginally for a couple of local bands. But keeping such things on a personal machine can be a good idea. That way you don't run afoul of the ISPs' penchant for claiming ownership of any files that you put on the "hosted" web site that they so conveniently provide for you. This is especially important for the bands, who would be rather upset if they found out that their ISP had claimed their MP3s and was selling them or using them in ads.

    Right now, I have a DSL account through speakeasy, whose TOS promise that I can do all of this, and they won't take it away from me. The other ISPs hereabouts either flatly forbid home servers or "reserve the right" to change their permissions without notice. And they won't sell commercial service to a "home" customer. So FIOS et al would eliminate such family-and-friends services, as well as risking my friends' bands' control of their own recordings.

    Anyone know of general solutions to this sort of problem? Not just for me, but for all the other geeks either doing or thinking of something similar? Is there a way we can put our own stuff online, and guarantee that the ISP can't take it away from us and use it for their own commercial purposes?

    • Well, just sign up for their hosting service! I'm sure it's all part of a wonderful bundle that makes everything so cheap.
    • Commercial web hosting is so cheap that there's no reason to do it on a home machine. Don't get it from your ISP; there are hundreds of competing web hosting companies. You can get quite decent capabilities for under $10/month.

    • Sign up for a hosting service. A server is better off in a data center than sitting on your desk anyways. I'm looking at Server Beach myself so I can have a reliable server set up for my email and just to fool around with. For under $100 a month, they'll rent you what is, for an individual or very small business, a pretty nice box, with a decent internet connection that has a clearly defined (and reasonable) transfer limit, and you can do what want with that box as long as it doesn't start trying to hack
  • me thinks (Score:3, Funny)

    by superwiz (655733) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:15AM (#22951694) Journal
    Comcast says "Mbps" the way airlines say "bonus miles".
  • 50Mbps untill... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by downix (84795) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:18AM (#22951728) Homepage
    I can imagine the comments now

    "Wow, 50Mbps, let me try something"
    second later
    "Hey, it just slowed down to 40Mbps"
    second later
    "what the, it slowed to 12Mbps"
    one more second
    "Hey, it's at 28.8Kbps!"

    While back at the Comcast HQ
    "Gentlemen, the beauty of the system is that it is only 50Mbps until someone actually uses. Any use of the pipeline for such bandwidth gobbling activities such as web browsing or email will be immediately countered with our new bandwidth load balancing software, reducing the available bandwidth in order to keep our profits up..."
  • DOCSIS 3.0 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:20AM (#22951780) Homepage

    The new service will use the DOCSIS 3.0 standard, which is nearing ratification.

    So does that mean they'll be providing IPv6 connectivity?

  • by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:31AM (#22951906) Journal
    You can already get this level of speed almost anywhere in quebec (canada) for about $100/month. It doesn't seem to go this fast unless you're doing something p2p... but if comcast throttles p2p - what is the point?
  • DOCSIS 3.0 has very sophisticated Quality Of Service (can read as unbreakable capping) technology built in. If you think it will be easy to hack, believe me nothing on DOCSIS is easy. Saying as a person who had to throw away his Motorola SB3100 because ISP rejected to update its firmware.

    I tried 2 weeks before giving up and it was supposed to be easier than others since (archaic) modem had built in software upgrade option from DOCSIS 1.0 to 1.1.

    We are speaking about a ISP sent RESET signal to their customer
  • Which ever one comes to San Francisco first is going to be a hell of a lot more attractive to me. I was trying to get FIOS here but couldn't because Verizon has no land service in this area. Comcast does... I think I know which one is more attractive now. To me anyway...
  • by esocid (946821) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:42AM (#22952066) Journal
    From DSL reports [dslreports.com]

    Comcast says customers on their 6Mbps tier will see upstream speed bumps to 1Mbps at no cost, while 8Mbps downstream customers will see their upstream speeds bumped to 2Mbps. That may actually be the more exciting news for customers eager for more upstream bandwidth.
    That is meaningless since no one ever gets anywhere near the supposed bandwidth, but hey maybe you'll be able to get close to that previous allotment.
  • How attractive will $150 for 50 Mbps be compared to Verizon's FiOS offerings?

    Well, I live in the Minneapolis area. FiOS is not available here. So I'd say Comcast has the advantage.
  • Just dont use it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @11:46AM (#22952124) Homepage Journal
    Or they will complain and cut you off. "up to" doesn't mean " you can use "
  • I abandoned Comcast for a "lower bandwidth" DSL plan because the local DSL ISP doesn't throttle. The final straw with Comcast was when I was trying to FTP something up to my web space and the connection kept resetting. They were throttling freaking FTP!
  • by Nihonkairitai (1267088) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @12:31PM (#22952686)
    Zzzz. So by 2010 America expects to get service that Japan had in 2003?! Not to mention Korea. Yawn. In 2004 Japan introduced 100mb connections. I loved and still miss my 24mb connection which to this day, here in California, I still can't get. We think we're #1! We think we're #1!
  • Speed test suite? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brit_in_the_USA (936704) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @01:41PM (#22953688)
    WE have all used those interactive web site to test our http speed but does anything more sophisticated + easy exist to check other popular protocols?

    I'd love to see some easy to use client / server solution that would do a batch of tests; HTTP, HTTP for >10 seconds, FTP, bit torrent and report back if any are throttled. Perhaps the information could be anonymized and stored in a data base to allow even more stats to be generated such as if there is throttling based on time of day, problems with busy periods of the day, problems with certain localities.

    At the very least, some laywers interested in some class action money could invest in providing this service.
  • by BanjoBob (686644) on Thursday April 03, 2008 @01:46PM (#22953786) Homepage Journal
    Comtrash advertised 6-Mbps here. They did all their comparisons to their 6-Mbps in their ads. They promoted 6-Mbps up one side and down the other.

    Only one little problem... They only Delivered 1-Mbps!! After numerous complaints, I finally got a tech out here that told me they had reduced everybody's speed to make room for their TV, telephone and other products.

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