Qwest has expanded the availability of its new, faster tier of broadband service to neighborhoods in many cities and towns along the Front Range corridor anchored by Denver and Boulder in Colorado. The company is now offering maximum speeds up to 40 Mbps downstream and 20 Mbps upstream.

Qwest’s wires are largely buried, which makes it more expensive and difficult for it to upgrade its network compared with, for example, Verizon, whose wiring is largely aerial-mounted.

Qwest has adopted a fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) upgrade path (similar to AT&T’s) coupled with the use of VDSL2 technology. It began rolling out the faster service last year.

The company said it passes 3.5 million potential residential and small-business customers and that it aims to pass an additional 1 million homes by the end of 2010. The company has cited major cities in Oregon, Arizona, Washington and other states in its operating region.

Qwest’s pitch is that the higher speeds complement other offerings, such as its automatic online backup service, movie downloads from Starz Play and video-on-demand services through its DirecTV partnership.

The 40/5 Mbps downstream upstream tier is $99.99 per month for the first 12 months when combined with a qualifying home phone plan. The 40/20 Mbps tier starts at $109.99 per month for the first 12 months.

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