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Comcast has said itÂ’s bringing its Gigabit Pro Internet service in Nashville as early as June. This comes weeks after its original announcement that itÂ’s rolling out Gigabit Pro in Atlanta. ComcastÂ’s Gigabit Pro will offer speeds of 2Gbps, both upstream and downstream, providing what could be the fastest Internet access in the country. While real world performance remains to be verified, Comcast is clearly spending a lot of money and resources to combat Google Fiber in competing cities, including the latterÂ’s rollouts in Charlotte and Raleigh, in addition to Atlanta and Nashville.
If you donÂ’t live in one of those cities, why does this matter to you? During the last few years, the music industry has been undergoing a major shift in its business model, as consumers move away from purchasing music the traditional way to opting for streaming services such as Pandora, Spotify, Last.FM, and others. Visual media has also seen a shift to streaming content delivery, with even the major networks all offering content online.
Enter the 4K factor. The emergence of 4K video as a standard in the marketplace is transforming the quality of visual media. As one friend exclaimed to me when seeing a 4K video for the first time, Â“it looks better than reality!Â” However, the addition of 4K streaming video eats up bandwidth quickly. Currently, there is not a lot of 4K content available, but that is about to change. The lack of available bandwidth has been a key reason for limited 4K video content from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon.
Additionally, major television manufactures have been releasing smart TVs with built-in Ethernet and WiFi for years now. And Samsung, Sharp, LG, Sony and others all have 4K- capable sets on the market. Many households now own more than one smart TV. And when you add to this the number of phones and tablets in your home clamoring for a WiFi signal, you can see the problem.
Whether connected by Ethernet or WiFi, all these devices are fighting each other for Internet bandwidth Â— and itÂ’s not unusual to see your TV picture freeze, pixilate, or pause to buffer in order for data streams to catch up. While Netflix claims you need just a steady 25Mbps to stream (admittedly compressed) 4K, gigabit Internet connections will greatly reduce the burden on real-world homes with lots of devices.
The US is far behind in Internet speed
ThereÂ’s no excuse for cable and communication companies in the US to have not already had this infrastructure in place. We have lagged well behind other countries in average Internet speeds worldwide for a number of years now. But with competition on the gigabit side heating up, we could eventually catch up to countries like South Korea, which averages close to 50Mbps, and China (Hong Kong) at 54Mbps. Even countries such as Romania and Latvia have outpaced the US in average Internet speed, which is only around 12Mbps, and ranked somewhere between 8th to 11th worldwide.
Comcast hasnÂ’t announced Nashville gigabit pricing yet. But for comparison, in Kansas City, Internet-only Google Fiber costs $70 per month, with Internet-plus-Google-TV service running about $120. In Nashville, ComcastÂ’s existing Xfinity Internet 25Mbps service costs $49 per month, while the 105Mbps service costs $115. You would expect the pricing for these services to change once Comcast rolls out the 2Gbps service, but donÂ’t get your hopes up, as Comcast has most customers locked into contracts. IÂ’m sure they will offer customers deals to upgrade, which will most likely lock them into even longer-term contract Â— striking a significant first blow against the Google invasion.
It will be interesting to see which service, Comcast or Google emerges as the most popular. Comcast has notoriously horrible customer service, and was even voted Â“The Most Hated Company in AmericaÂ” by consumers. Even though Comcast may offer the faster speed, Google could win the popularity contest by default. So the lines are being drawn on the battleground for the Fiber Wars. This is just the beginning of the battle to see who can deliver the fastest Internet with the least hassle.
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