As promised, Comcast has started rolling out its fastest DOCSIS 3.0-enabled tier that features a downstream speed of 100 Mbps.

Comcast first launched its "Deluxe 100" tier last fall in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Earlier this week, a 100 Mbps business tier was rolled out in Comcast's hometown of Philadelphia and the surrounding areas, including northern Delaware, and in parts of New Jersey. The New Jersey deployments included Union, Plainfield, Somerset, Trenton, Burlington and Gloucester counties.

Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander said the cable operator was announcing deployments today in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., with other parts of Pennsylvania coming on line soon.

Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts said the nation's largest cable operator would start rolling out the 100 Mbps tier throughout the year during Comcast's first-quarter earnings call in April.

Comcast has been locking horns with Verizon for data customers. Verizon's fastest tier for its FiOS service clocks in at 50 Mbps/20 Mbps, but Verizon has been testing a 100 Mbps tier of its own.  

When Comcast first launched its 100 Mbps service last year, it increased the upstream speed in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region from 10 Mbps to 15 Mbps, but Alexander said the current crop of business-class rollouts have upstream speeds of 10 Mbps.

Comcast is using cable modem termination systems from Arris and customer premises equipment from SMC Networks for its 100 Mbps tier that bonds four downstream channels.

"With this next-generation service, our business-class customers' online experience is significantly enhanced," said Michael Maloney, vice president of business services for Comcast's Freedom Region. "This new offering, which utilizes our existing, advanced fiber-optic network, will enable customers to operate their businesses more efficiently and productively than ever."

The 100 Mbps tier is available to Comcast Business Class customers for $369.95 per month and includes Microsoft Communication Services, which Comcast said was valued at more than $500, and a productivity suite that combines Windows SharePoint and Microsoft Outlook e-mail powered by Microsoft Exchange Server for no additional fee. 

In addition, the service includes Norton Business Suite software, which retails for up to $490, that protects up to 25 PCs from viruses and spyware.

Comcast has set a goal of having DOCSIS 3.0 in 80 percent of its systems by the end of the year. During its April earnings report, Comcast added 399,000 high-speed data subscribers in the first quarter, which the company attributed to the faster tiers that it's offering.

Comcast's other DOCSIS 3.0 tiers are Extreme 50 and Ultra. Extreme features download speeds of up to 50 Mbps and upstream speeds of 10 Mbps for $99.95 per month with a subscription to Comcast's video or voice services. Ultra clocks in with 22 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up at a cost of $62.95 per month when paired with the company's video or voice offerings.

Business customers can sign up for the Deluxe tier for $189.95 per month, or the Premium service for $99.95.

More Broadband Direct 7/14/10:

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•  Broadband Briefs for July 14, 2010