Comcast has doubled Internet speed at no additional cost for Connecticut customers on Xfinity Blast and Extreme 50 data tiers.

The Blast service will go from a 25 megabit downstream speed to 50 megabits with uploads increasing from 4 megabits per second to 10. Customers on the Extreme tier will see their speeds go from 50 megabits per second to a whopping 105, with upstream speeds at 20 megabits per second (up from 10). The speed changes come at no additional cost to those customers. Speeds and prices for lower tiers will remain the same.

The new speeds require new hardware for customers running older cable modems. The Blast and Extreme tiers now require a docsis 3.0 compatible cable modem that can be purchased at most area electronics retailers or leased from Comcast. A list of compatible hardware can be found by clicking here. The Motorola SURFBoard Extreme 6121 and the Zoom 5341J are both highly recommended by broadband enthusiasts.  Note that Comcast customer service needs to be contacted whenever a new modem is installed.

Even with the new modem, older routers and wireless networking hardware may have a hard time keeping up with the faster speeds. Ensure that your wireless equipment (both the router and computers) support the 802.11n standard. Slower wireless connections will work but may not support the higher speeds. Additionally wireless routers with 1 gigabit hardwired connections are recommended for the Extreme tier. Many routers still come with only 100 megabit wired network connections.

The speed increases come as Comcast continues to battle Verizon for broadband dominance. While Verizon does not offer service in Connecticut (with the exception of Greenwich), AT&T offers residents its U-verse product that delivers television and broadband internet. U-verse’s top speed is 24 megabits downstream.

The new speeds also call into question data usage caps that Comcast enforced up until recently. The company came under fire for not counting video from a Comcast Xbox 360 video app towards the data cap, causing activists to allege the company was violating a net neutrality agreement it made with the Federal Communications Commission.

Comcast has temporarily suspended those data caps as it explores new options for curbing excessive network utilization. The old policy would penalize customers for downloading 250 gigabytes of data per month. They are now testing a more flexible data usage policy that allows customers to download or upload 300 gigabytes per month. Customers on the Blast and Extreme tiers will be able to download more than lower service offerings but Comcast has not yet announced what the cap will be. The larger cap is a good thing for top tier data customers as it only takes about 6 hours to download 250 gigabytes on the Extreme tier. Comcast will announce their new data usage policy later this year.

Comcast offers the Blast service for $58.95 per month for cable television subscribers. The Extreme service is priced at $99 monthly.

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