Comcast presents competitive 2-Gig challenge to AT&T in Chicago

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) isn't wasting any time responding to AT&T's (NYSE: T) recent move to bring services to the Chicago region, announcing that it will offer its 2 Gbps service to more than 2.4 million customers throughout several markets in the region this month.

Leveraging a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) architecture, the Gigabit Pro service will be offered across the region to customers in Illinois and northwest Indiana.

Similar to earlier launches it has made, Comcast said Gigabit Pro will be available to any home within close proximity of Comcast's fiber network and will require an installation of optical network terminal (ONT) and related equipment at the customer premise.

Out of the largest cable MSOs, Comcast has been the most aggressive to deliver a Gbps broadband service.

In addition to Greater Chicago, the service provider has named Atlanta, Chattanooga, Tenn., California and Florida as markets where it will offer its 2 Gbps service. It plans to roll out the service to 18 million homes by the end of the year, which would mean expansions into more of its key markets, but it has not revealed those yet.

One of the key questions that looms over Comcast is how the service will be priced. Given the fact the 2 Gbps service will be a premium, it will be interesting to see if it follows a similar model that Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) has with the $70-a-month price for its 1 Gbps service.

In terms of speed, Comcast will be able to surpass AT&T, which announced late last month that is also targeting the Chicago area with its 1 Gbps U-verse with Gigapower service. Initially, AT&T's 1 Gig service will be available in Elgin, Oswego, Plainfield, Skokie, Yorkville and surrounding communities located throughout the Chicago metro area, with plans to extend the service to Chicago this summer.

AT&T currently offers eligible U-verse with GigaPower customers to choose among three plans: single, double or triple-play bundle offerings. With the U-verse High Speed Internet Premier standalone offering, consumers can get up to 1 Gbps beginning as low as $120 a month, or speeds at 100 Mbps as low as $90 a month, with a one-year price guarantee.

However, one of the key differences that separates AT&T from Comcast is implementation of usage caps. AT&T's 1-Gig service also imposes a 1,000 gigabyte usage limit. Google Fiber does not implement usage caps on its FTTP offerings and Comcast has also said it won't impose any usage caps on its Gigabit Pro service.

For more:
- see the release

Special report: Gigabit Wars: The best prices for 1 Gbps service from ILECs, MSOs and municipal providers

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