Comcast will double Internet speeds for hundreds of thousands of people in the Twin Cities, a move that raises the stakes in the local battle for Internet customers.
Comcast on Thursday will raise the speeds for its most popular tiers of services — 25 megabits per second, 50 megabits per second and 105 megabits per second. Speed for the lower two tiers will double, and the highest of the three will rise to 150 Mbps.
“Those three products are going to get boosted at no cost to consumers,” said Jeff Freyer, Comcast’s regional vice president responsible for Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri and Kansas. “We all know Internet is the future, and we’re set to double down there and be an innovative provider for years to come.”
Customers will have to reset their modem in one of several ways to take advantage of the speed boost. Comcast has been rolling out speed boosts over the past few months, in cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Houston and San Francisco. .
The largest Internet provider in the Twin Cities by far, Comcast reported in its second quarter that it lost TV subscribers nationally. An increase in Internet subscriptions more than made up for the decline in traditional cable business. But in the Twin Cities, and elsewhere, the company faces challenges from both large and small competitors for Internet subscribers.
CenturyLink, which has its roots in the phone business and is the market’s No. 2 provider of Internet service, is building a 1-gigabit, or 1,000-megabit, fiber optic network service in the metro area. The company won’t say where the service will be available, or when, but permits pulled in both Minneapolis and St. Paul show the company is digging all over the metro area.
U.S. Internet, a smaller Internet provider from Minnetonka, is building a fiber network across south Minneapolis and offering lower prices than its competitors. The company has been filling gaps in its service map west of Interstate 35W and has bored under the interstate into the neighborhoods of Field and Northrop.
“That’ll all be live by the first of November,” said Travis Carter, U.S. Internet’s chief of operations.
Carter said the firm’s customer base has doubled this year and he still expects to hit the Mississippi River with the network sometime in 2016.
Comcast customers can take advantage of the free speed increase by resetting their modem, unplugging it for a few seconds, or by resetting it remotely online or using the Xfinity app.
Freyer said that before the end of the year Comcast will launch a 2-gigabit service to Twin Cities customers who are near certain points, or nodes, of its network. A 1-gig service will also be rolled out to a broader base of prospective customers.
“We want to be the fastest, and delivering these speeds is what people want,” he said.