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Verizon to unleash 300 Mbps broadband tier

Wed, 05/30/2012 - 3:11pm
Mike Robuck

Starting next month, Verizon will push its broadband speed needle up to 300 Mbps on the downstream, with 65 Mbps on the upstream.

The new 300 Mbps tier, which appears to be the fastest commercially available tier in North America, will be available next month and is just one piece of Verizon’s plan to restructure its broadband portfolio. Verizon will also start offering a 75/35 tier next month.

For competitive reasons, Verizon won’t announce the standalone and bundle prices for its fiber-based broadband tiers until they are rolled out next month. Verizon previously offered a 150/35 tier, but it wasn’t widely available across its footprint. (Verizon provided a breakdown of its broadband tiers, both old and new, on its website.)

The 150 and 300 tiers, which Verizon said would be available to the “majority” of its subscriber base, require customers to be connected via a GPON (gigabit passive optical network) terminal. For existing customers who have a BPON (broadband passive optical network) terminal and qualify for the GPON service, the installation of a new GPON terminal will be required. Verizon didn’t provide any information on possible installation costs.

With a 300 Mbps speed, consumers can download a two-hour standard-definition movie (1.5 GB) in less than 40 seconds, and a two-hour high-definition movie (5 GB) in 2.2 minutes. On a 150 Mbps connection, the same two-hour SD movie can be downloaded in less than 80 seconds, and the two-hour HD movie in less than four-and-a-half minutes.

"Our top FiOS speed will be twice as fast as anything America has ever seen," said Mike Ritter, chief marketing officer for Verizon's consumer and mass market business unit. "High-speed Internet no longer is just for techies, as more than half of our residential consumers already use at least a 20 Mbps Internet connection. Streaming online video on an all-fiber-optic connection providing faster speeds is better and more reliable during peak Internet usage hours.

"As recently as 2005, video was less than 10 percent of Web traffic. By the end of this year, we expect it to be 50 percent, growing to 90 percent in just a few years."

Verizon provided a breakdown of which streams would fit different users’ needs. For example, its 75/35 tier would be ideal for homes that stream HD movies, play online games, and have three or more Internet-connected users on multiple devices.

The high-end 150/65 and 300/65 Mbps speed tiers were designed for households of five or more Internet-connected users who want to receive the best standard- and high-definition video streaming experience on a variety of devices.

Verizon cited the consumption of over-the-top video and the proliferation of new devices, including smartphones and tablets, as a few of the reasons for the new speeds and restructured tiers, but the faster speeds are a shot across the bow of cable operators’ DOCSIS 3.0-based services.

Earlier this month, Canadian MSO Videotron rolled out a DOCSIS 3.0-enabled 200 Mbps service in Quebec that featured 35 Mbps on the upstream.

Among North American MSOs, Buckeye CableSystem launched a 110/5 tier in March. Other notable speeds in North America include Suddenlink’s 107/5, Comcast’s 105/10, Cablevision’s 101/15 and Charter’s 100/5.

At last week’s Cable Show in Boston, cable operator and vendor panelists discussed various options to increase data speeds moving forward, including the extension of DOCSIS, EPON and Ethernet PON over Coax (EPoC).

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