Thursday, April 24, 2008

20 Mbps Internet now available in the Springs

Starting Thursday, some Qwest Communications customers in Colorado Springs now have access to the fastest Internet service available in the state.

The new plans offer a top speed of 20 megabits per second (Mbps) for $104.99 a month (with a phone plan bundle) or 12 Mbps speeds for $51.99 a month. Qwest said it is delivering the ultra-fast services to its 23 top markets, including Colorado Springs.

Travis Leo, Qwest’s director of high speed Internet services, said if customers can get Qwest’s 7 Mbps service now, they should also be able to get the new, faster speeds.

“Colorado Springs has one of the highest availabilities in any market,” Leo said. “Upgrading the network down there has proven to be very, very efficient.”

Qwest’s basic DSL service offers 1.5 Mbps for $34.99 a month and 7 Mbps for $41.99 (all of Qwest’s plans are $5 a month cheaper when combined with phone service.

Earlier this month, Comcast announced its own super-fast connections for heavy Internet users, offering 50 megabits per second for $149.99 a month, but that service is so far available only in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn.

Comcast’s current high-speed Internet plans deliver between 4 and 8 Mbps in Colorado Springs, for $52.95 to $62.95 (less when bundled with voice and video services) and Comcast offers a speed boost to 12 Mbps during especially heavy usage. Comcast spokeswoman Cindy Parsons said the 50 Mbps service would be available in 20 percent of its markets by the end of the year, but couldn’t say if Colorado Springs would be one of them.

Comcast has announced that it’s working toward delivering speeds as high as 100 or 150 Mbps, although those aren’t yet available. Likewise, Leo said that Qwest’s 20 Mbps service is just a stepping stone en route to faster speeds.

“There certainly is lots of headroom from a future technology standpoint,” he said. “We’re not going to stand around and think that 20 is sufficient.”

Faster speeds are gaining popularity hand in hand with the growth of video streaming and online gaming, Leo said. Also, many homes now have several computers hooked up to a single Internet connection, placing greater demands on the amount of bandwidth available, he said

.“We’re seeing customers sign up for higher speeds at faster rates than we thought,” Leo said.

The faster speeds are made possible by installing fiber optic cable into more neighborhoods, meaning that only the last few hundred or thousand feet of connection is on slower copper cables. Qwest is spending $300 million to upgrade its network nationwide.

On a 20 Mbps connection, Qwest says a 2-hour movie can be downloaded in six minutes, or 20 songs could be downloaded in one minute.

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