SAN FRANCISCO - Home Internet users' need for speed is about to get a major rush.
Comcast on Thursday is expected to announce a new, blur-fast residential service, called Extreme 105, available to consumers in more than 40 million homes in San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Miami, among others.
The service delivers data at 105 megabits per second - more than 60 times faster than a T-1 line, which most businesses rely on, Comcast says.
Comcast has been comparing their basic business package to T1 service in their radio ads for a while now. I have always found it to be an "apples to oranges" comparison, because most businesses that I know who have a T1 use it for phone service - as it was intended.
Some companies have a dynamic data service T1 or similar connection type that is also used for internet access, but that is usually part of a hosted VoIP package intended to replace centrex.
And just to be a total semantic PITA [something I do often], bitrate is not the same thing as speed: Speed is a measure of how long it takes to get from point A to point B, which is quantified as latency. Latency in packet networks is measured in milliseconds, whereas on a T1 or other SDH pipe it is measured in microseconds.
That said, it is true that virtually everyone uses the term "fast" to mean "high bitrate," so Comcast is only speaking the language of the land, and one can't fault them for that. However, it would make more sense to compare their new offering to similar offerings in urban and suburban areas from other providers, such as metro ethernet service at
100 Mbps. In some urban areas, the big telecom players are rolling out metro ethernet offerings at even higher bitrates than that.
************************************************** Speaking from a secure undisclosed location.
***** Moderator's Note *****
At least in this state, many companies go to a Competive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC), and order a "T1" line for both their phone circuits and for data. It seems there is a "tariff niche" which specifies a discounted rate for T1 lines whenever they are used for voice traffic, so those companies get data connections at a fraction of the rate that would be charged for T1 circuits if they were used only for data.
It (has been) a popular measure of bandwidth: I have seen cases where marketing types of european internet-related companies kept insisting an answer whether they had T1 or T3 connectivity (back when T1 was 'affordable' for a company and a T3 'expensive'). Having something else was incomprehensible.
But there is one thing a (business-rate) T1 Internet connection offers which comcast isn't even getting close to: you can fill it with IP traffic 24 hours per day for the entire month and the worst that could happen is a salesguy calling up if you might be interested in an upgrade.
Back of the envelope calculation: that's over 380 gigabyte/month in one direction.
Current highest monthly cap for comcast services is 250 gigabyte/month.
Unfortunately, while businesses have the idea of a T1 pretty firmly ingrained in, they don't know how much bandwidth it actually carries.
I get alot of comments from business type customers that their 20Mbps cable connection isn't fast enough, someday they'll be able to afford and get a massive bandwidth upgrade and go to T1..
***** Moderator's Note *****
Well, they're not right about the speed, but that's not necessarily an unproductive goal. A "T-1" circuit goes from a business directly to their ISP, so they get _all_ the bandwidth, _all_ of the time. However "fast" a cable connection might be, it is still only a pipe to the cable company, and after that the cableco can mix it in with a million other users to save costs, or screw with connections to places they don't like (as Comcast has been doing), or exact tribute from those who don't want to get sidelined, etc.
In any case, most business transactions aren't high-bandwidth: emails, for example. That means that latency is the important factor, because try as they might, business can never train their employees to ignore the "sending email" message after they finish an email, so getting a response quickly (as happens with a T-1 that's only two or three hops away from the backbone) is usually a better choice than getting a higher bandwidth but waiting longer for it.