For a period of time, it seemed like Google would usher in the era of gigabit internet service on a widespread scale in the US. Instead, it's Comcast that is out in front, in terms of availability. The company's gigabit internet service is now accessible to nearly all of the 58 million homes and businesses it serves.
"This deployment represents the fastest roll out of gigabit speeds to the most homes in the country. Comcast has increased speeds 17 times in 17 years and has doubled the capacity of its broadband network every 18-24 months," Comcast said.
To be clear, this doesn't represent nationwide availability. Comcast offers broadband internet service in 39 states an the District of Columbia. So, there are many places where Comcast's gigabit service simply doesn't extend at the moment.
Nevertheless, it's impressive that Comcast has made gigabit speeds available in nearly every place it does have a presence. The question is, do you need that kind of speed? Comcast's argument in favor of ponying up for 1Gbps services is that it can benefit households with multiple connected devices, from gaming PCs to streaming set-top boxes.
"This isn't about one connected device consuming an entire gig," Fraser Stirling, senior vice president of Digital Home, devices and artificial intelligence at Comcast, told CNET. "But when you have 10 devices using 100Mbps at the same time, you see the pipe fill up."
That's certainly an extreme example, even for a crowded household. However, it's nice to see 1Gbps service being made more widely available after Google halted its Fiber expansion plans, and with all the drama surrounding net neutrality.
The caveat, of course, is cost. A visit to Comcast's Xfinity portal is showing $110 per month with a 24-month agreement. Depending on the area, the cost can be slightly lower or up to $160 per month without a contract. And of course there are the customer support horror stories, though in fairness to Comcast it's not the only ISP that's ruffled a few feathers.