Comcast takes on Google, Verizon with fiber launch in Florida

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) may be still committed to getting as much out of its hybrid fiber coax (HFC) network as it can, but the cable MSO's move to submit a proposal to build a fiber to the home (FTTH) network supporting 530 homes in Sun Valley, Fla., shows it has plenty of interest in fiber-based broadband services.

"We are excited for the possibility of providing Xfinity service, delivered via Fiber to the Home—right here in your community!" Comcast said in a letter that was obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

Previously, Comcast offered a similar service for $300. Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesman confirmed with FierceTelecom that it will offer the same price for the FTTH service to its Sun Valley customers. 

Seperately, a Comcast spokeswoman confifmed with the WSJ that the MSO has started to extend fiber to homes in Greenfield areas that reside near its existing HFC plant. However, the spokeswoman would not say how many customers would get the FTTH-based service.

Sun Valley is just one of a number of markets where Comcast is offering FTTH.

In 2012 Comcast revealed plans to offer a 305 Mbps/65 Mbps speed tier over a point-to-point Ethernet-based FTTH network targeting customers in the Northeast and Southern markets. At the time, the MSO's fiber-based $300 service tier was being used to target markets where Verizon (NYSE: VZ) offers its higher speed 300/65 Mbps and 500 Mbps speed tiers for $201 and $310 a month, respectively.

Verizon recently upped the ante of its FiOS offering by upgrading all of its existing six main data tiers to symmetrical speeds. While Comcast and fellow cable operators Cox and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) have been adding higher downstream capabilities to 50 and 100 Mbps speeds, their existing HFC networks remain constrained in the upstream direction until they start deploying next-gen DOCSIS 3.1 technology.

While Comcast may be offering all fiber-based in Greenfield areas, the service provider plans to follow the rest of the cable industry in deploying "Gigasphere" technology, which enables cable operators to achieve Gigabit speeds over their existing coax network infrastructure.

Comcast is hardly alone in wanting to compete with FTTH providers. Earlier this year, Cox announced that it too would launch a 1 Gbps FTTH service in order to challenge AT&T (NYSE: T) and Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG). It already faces FTTH competition from CenturyLink, which offers a 1 Gbps service in Omaha, one of Cox's key markets.

For more:
- WSJ has this article (sub. req.)

Editor's Corner: Verizon's symmetric FiOS speeds take upper hand over cable's upstream DOCSIS limitations

Related articles:
Comcast to deliver 305 Mbps speed tier over Ethernet-based FTTH
Comcast counters Verizon's Quantum FiOS offering with 305 Mbps tier
Cox takes on AT&T and Google Fiber in 1 Gbps fiber race

Updated article on July 29 with information about pricing of the fiber-based broadband service.