For the past couple of years, we’ve been alternately amused and horrified whenever cable company bigwigs have told us that we don’t really “need” fast speeds like those offered by Google Fiber, so why bother significantly investing in infrastructure upgrade? It turns out, however, that both Comcast and Time Warner Cable have quickly changed their tunes now that they’re feeling the actual heat of free market competition for the first time in years.
Consumerist notices that Comcast and TWC both have just happened to significantly boost speeds in the Kansas City metropolitan area, which also happens to be the first area where Google has launched Google Fiber. These speed increases aren’t anything close to what Google is offering with Google Fiber, of course — Comcast customers who subscribe to its 25Mbps service will get a speed boost up to 50Mbps, 50Mbps customers will get a speed boost up to 105Mbps and 105Mbps customers will get bumped up to 150Mbps, all completely free of charge.
We imagine that there have been a lot of very tense, awkward calls in the Kansas City area recently from customers who are informing their cable companies that their slow, overpriced services will no longer be required. In fact, I imagine many of those calls go something like this:
Comcast rep: Hello, thank you for calling Comcast, how may I help you?
Caller: I’d like to cancel my subscription to Comcast, please.
Comcast rep.: We are the No. 1 provider of Internet and TV service in the entire country. Why is it that you’re not wanting to have the No. 1 rated Internet service, the No. 1 rated TV service available?
Caller: Because Google Fiber is kicking the crap out of you and offering me a 1Gbps service for just $70 per month. Right now I’m paying that much for your 25Mbps service.
Comcast rep.: Why don’t you want the faster speed? Help me understand why you don’t want faster Internet.
Caller: You don’t have the fastest Internet. Google Fiber does. What part of “1Gbps” do you not understand?
Comcast rep.: So you’re not interested in the fastest Internet in the country? Why not?
Caller: Are you kidding me. 1Gbps is faster than 25Mbps. And I’m getting it for the same price that I was paying you guys for subpar service.
Comcast rep.: I’m just trying to figure out what it is about Comcast service that you don’t want to keep?
You get the idea.
UPDATE: Comcast chimes in to say that Kansas City wasn’t the only market where it announced these upgrades — apparently customers in California and in Houston, Texas are getting big speed boosts too. We’ll be eager to see whether Comcast expands this program to more markets and whether it gets even more ambitious in boosting speeds to be more on par with what Google Fiber and other municipal fiber networks such as the one in Chattanooga, Tennessee are offering.