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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

November 17, 2008 at 11:19 AM

Local broadband updates: Comcast upping speeds, new ferry Wi-Fi provider

Comcast today announced that it’s boosting the speeds of its broadband service in Washington state.

By the end of December, it will “double the Internet speeds of nearly all of our customers at no extra cost and launch a brand new super fast speed tier of 50 Mbps down and 5 10 Mbps up,” spokesman Steve Kipp said.

(Update: He was off in the original statement – it’s 10 up, not 5 …)

The top-end service is enticing, but really expensive.

A new “Extreme 50” service — with 50 Mpbs down speed and 10 up — is $139.95 per month.

Also new is the “Ultra” tier with 22 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 5 Mbps of upstream speed at $62.95 per month.

(UPDATE: Subscribers will also need a new type of modem, which Comcast is renting for $3 per month. Thanks for the question, Tommy from Spokane …)

Existing “performance” tier customers will see up to 12 Mbps up and 2 Mbps down, and “performance plus” customers will se up 16 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up.

Maybe that will light a fire under Qwest and get it to speed up its fiber optic rollout in Seattle and other communities where Verizon’s FiOS isn’t offering Comcast significant competition.

Separately, the Washington State Ferries have a new W-iFi vendor. Los Angeles-based Boingo Wireless is acquiring the business from Parsons Transportation Group. Boingo will charge $7.95 for a daily pass or $21.95 for a monthly service that also works at Boingo’s other hotspots.

Boingo noted this is lower than the current monthly rate of $29.95, but with the exorbitant price of ferry tickets nowadays, I think the service should be a free amenity to encourage people to commute by boat.

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