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Comcast tops 1 million Wi-Fi mark; increases data speeds in NE

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 1:07pm
Mike Robuck

Comcast announced this morning that it had, as expected, topped the 1 million threshold for hot spots deployed across the nation and that it was increasing some data speeds in its Northeast footprint.

The two announcements were choreographed to coincide with Comcast executive vice president, public policy David Cohen and Time Warner Cable chief financial officer Art Minson appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee today in regards to the deal between the two companies.

While Cablevision was an early proponent of Wi-Fi services, Comcast has aggressively added access points across its systems over the past few years. Yesterday Cohen wrote in his blog that while Comcast had 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots, Time Warner Cable only had 29,000.

Comcast has taken a three-pronged approach to deploying hot spots across heavily trafficked areas outdoors, in businesses and in customers’ neighborhoods. As part of its neighborhood hotspot initiative, Comcast has been handing out wireless gateways that have a second signal that allows others to access an in-home hot spot without passwords. The second signal is separate and secure from the homeowner’s own Wi-Fi signal.

"We want our customers to have Wi-Fi access to the Internet, wherever they are," said Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of consumer services for Comcast Cable. "Speed, reliability and accessibility on any device, are all important to our customers and we are committed to grow our hotspots to keep ahead of the rise in user demand."

On the data side of today’s news, Comcast increased the speeds of two of its tiers in the Northeast Division at no additional cost.

In the Northeast, the Xfinity Internet Blast tier now offers speeds of up to 105 Mbps (formerly 50 Mbps), and the Xfinity Extreme 105 tier offers speeds up to 150 Mbps (formerly 105 Mbps). It was the second time in two years that Comcast has doubled its Blast tier. The upstream speeds remained the same at 10 Mbps for Blast and 20 Mbps for Extreme 150.

"There is a barrage of devices coming online every day and we are staying ahead of demand through faster speeds and best-in-class wireless gateways," Jenckes said. "We’re making it easier for families to get more value from the Internet, across more devices, and will continue to make our service a fast and reliable experience for customers."

The new speeds will be available to customers in most of Comcast’s Northeast Division, which includes 14 Northeastern states from Maine through Virginia and the District of Columbia. To get access, Comcast said that most customers would just need to re-boot their modems, but some customers might need to upgrade their modems.

Comcast said the faster speeds marked the 13th increase over the past 12 years. Cohen touted Comcast’s broadband services in his blog yesterday, and said that Comcast would work to increase the speeds in the Time Warner Cable footprint if the deal garners approval.

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