Comcast to up cable speeds tenfold this year

Another major Internet service provider will join Verizon in offering ultra-high speed broadband connections in the U.S. this year. According to a report by USA Today, Comcast plans to start selling Internet access with a top speed of 160Mbps some time in 2008.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts made the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, stating that he wanted to show that the "two-way, fiber-optic-based network [Comcast] built is ready [for next-generation Internet, TV, and phone products]." The 160Mbps service will have a maximum speed ten times greater than that of Comcast's fastest existing offering, which tops out at 16Mbps. A 160Mbps connection should allow downloads as fast as 20MB/s, and Roberts says it'll be quick enough to download a two-hour, high-definition movie in less than four minutes.

USA Today doesn't specify what technology the 160Mbps service will use. However, the speed quoted suggests Comcast could use the DOCSIS 3.0 cable standard, which supports a maximum downstream of 160Mbps via coaxial cables through the use of channel bonding. DOCSIS 3.0 also allows a maximum upstream speed of 120Mbps, although Comcast hasn't yet announced the upstream speed for its upcoming service.

In other Comcast-related news, the Federal Communications Commission has announced that it will investigate complaints about Comcast's alleged hampering of peer-to-peer traffic. Comcast was already hit with a class action lawsuit over the issue last year.

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