While San Mateo, Calif., has been able to attract its fair share of high-tech start-ups, its broadband infrastructure paled in comparison to what was being offered next door in San Francisco.

Yesterday, San Mateo's Chamber of Commerce announced it had partnered with Comcast Business Services to upgrade the broadband network in San Mateo's downtown underground utility district.

The project, which is also known locally as the "Digital Downtown," was the brainchild of The Edge, an initiative of San Mateo's Chamber. After listening to the concerns of San Mateo's business community, Edge leaders approached several broadband providers late last year to look at how higher-speed broadband could be brought to downtown. Comcast was the only provider to engage the group and offer to make a major capital investment to achieve The Edge's goal.

Over the following months, The Edge and Comcast worked with downtown businesses, property owners and city government to make sure that the project would deliver maximum benefit to the downtown area while minimizing any impacts to the underground utility district.

"We are seeing remarkable interest from businesses and venture capital to establish and grow companies in our underground utility district, and high-speed broadband is a prerequisite to establishing and growing those businesses," said Linda Asbury, president of the San Mateo Chamber of Commerce. "We appreciate Comcast's responding to our request for more and better service in the area."

Using Comcast Business Services' optical fiber backbone, medical offices, high-tech start-ups and other businesses will be able to access bandwidth speeds of up to 10 Gbps through Comcast's Business Class Ethernet services, or opt for the DOCSIS 3.0-based 100 Mbps down/10 Mbps up Business Class Internet service. Comcast will also be offering its business-class voice and video services in the downtown district.

"Comcast is thrilled to be a part of this exciting and rapidly growing part of the city of San Mateo," said Mark O'Leary, vice president of Comcast's Business Services division in Northern California. "The San Mateo Chamber and The Edge have been working hard to support the healthy growth of businesses in San Mateo, and they often require the kinds of broadband services that Comcast provides."

Comcast didn't disclose how much it would invest in the project, but San Mateo City Councilman David Lim said the city provided start-up funds of $75,000 to The Edge in June.

The project is slated to be finished by the middle of next year.