Have I got a deal for you.
A credible threat is all it takes to convince Comcast to upgrade its current service or extend it to new customers. That’s the only conclusion I can draw from the announcement that it will double the speed of its Internet service in Colorado (h/t to the Baller-Herbst list for the pointer).
The cause seems obvious: last week, seven Colorado communities voted to allow the development of municipal broadband projects. The promised upgrade – customers currently getting 25 and 50 Mbps plans will see their nominal speeds double at no additional cost – is not just a public relations ploy aimed at boosting Comcast’s poor public persona. It’s also a preemptive strike against would-be competitors.
The move is completely typical for Comcast. The company did pretty much the same thing in Provo when Google moved in and rushed to build new lines in the Santa Cruz mountains when a state-subsidised fiber to the home loomed on the horizon. It’s taken a similar hard line to muni broadband projects, both on the lobbying front and competitively, for example forcing the City of Alameda’s system out of business with an extended, all out sales and promotion campaign.
So it’s both an immediate boon to consumers and a more distant threat that it can and will fight to defend its turf. Voters in those Colorado cities will, in all likelihood, have to vote again before bonds can be issued to pay for any fiber builds. Expect more of the same and worse. Comcast will do whatever it takes to stop community-based competition dead in its tracks.