Comcast's Answer To Google Fiber, A Service That's Twice As Fast, But Four Times As Expensive
from the fine-print dept
Back in early April Comcast unveiled its response to Google Fiber: a new two gigabit service the company promised would be made available to eighteen million customers before the end of the year. For the next four months the company made a lot of PR references to this ultra fast tier, but despite an April promise the product was launching “soon,” there’s five months left in the year and nobody can actually sign up for it. Comcast, now facing Google Fiber, indie ISP and municipal broadband pressure in a growing number of markets, has also consistently refused to state how much this new service would cost.
With the new service’s website going live, it’s now pretty clear why. While Google Fiber will offer users a symmetrical gigabit connection for $70 a month (with a waived $300 install fee if you sign a one year contract), Comcast is offering users twice the speed with this new “Gigabit Pro” service — but at around four times the cost. As the fine print on the website indicates, Comcast also just can’t help itself when it comes to caveats:
So in addition to the double gigabit service costing users $300 a month, Comcast’s attempt at competition comes with a $500 installation fee and a $500 activation fee. Users also face a more than $1000 early termination fee should they leave before the two-year contract is up. That’s of course before any other mystery fees Comcast adds below the line. You’ll also need to wait six to eight weeks after ordering to actually get your service, which thanks to the usual “up to” language may or may not actually reach advertised speeds.
On the plus side, while Comcast continues to experiment with usage-based pricing this tier won’t be capped, and it looks like they’re offering a $159 promo price for a limited time (though only in some markets and only if users agree to a three year contract). And at least Comcast is building out its network, something you’ll recall wasn’t supposed to be possible thanks to the horrible, investment-stifling menace of ISP Title II reclassification and new net neutrality rules. That’s assuming Comcast’s plan isn’t just “fiber to the press release,” something that’s not entirely clear since nobody has been able to sign up for this service yet.
Still, $1000 in buried fees right out of the gate is a very Comcast-esque way of competing when companies like Google Fiber, Sonic.net and and Tucows/Ting are trying to go out of their way to eliminate obnoxious hidden fees as a user pain point. And in places like Atlanta, where Comcast is experimenting with usage caps, Comcast is making avoiding said caps only possible if you’re willing to pay an extreme premium for a service with speeds few people will ever need. In short, Comcast is offering two gigabit service simply to say that they do; service pricing on Comcast tiers that people actually buy will meanwhile continue their slow march skyward.