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Summary:

Virgin Media, a U.K.-based cable company, has introduced a 100 Mbps broadband connection at reasonable prices. It might not be as cheap as broadband in Japan, but at least it’s better than what we’ve got in the U.S.

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If you are like me and live in an apartment building where San Francisco-based independent ISP, Web Pass, offers big broadband service, then you’re lucky. You pay less than $50 a month for a 100 Mbps connection to your home — no phone or cable service required. Everywhere else in the U.S., those speeds are hard to come by, and when you can get them, they give you a sticker shock.

Now compare that to folks in the U.K., who now have access to a 100 Mbps service from U.K.-based cable company, Virgin Media. The company today started rolling out its 100 Mbps service across its footprint (with rollout likely to be completed by mid-2012), charging $57 a month if it’s part of a bundle. As a standalone purchase, users pay $73 a month. It’s available to a million customers who can sign up right now.

The upload speeds are restricted to 10 Mbps, and Virgin Media claims it can boost the speeds to 400 Mbps. While that pales compared to the speeds offered by ISPs in Hong Kong, South Korea or Scandinavia, these are good deals, especially when compared to pricing. When I lived near Dolores Park, I was paying $80 a month to Comcast for a 50 Mbps connection.

Surewest, an independent phone company based in Sacramento, charges $262 a month for a 50/50 Mbps connection, though that service isn’t widely available. Verizon charges $215 a month for 150 Mbps for no contract, without voice FiOS service. In New York, Cablevision  charges somewhere between $85 to $105 for a 100 Mbps downstream/15 Mbps upstream connection, depending on the kind of package you sign-up for.

In February 2010, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski outlined a vision of 100 million homes with 100 Mbps connections. We are nowhere close to hitting that target. Instead, we have companies like AT&T trying to impose meters on their pokey broadband connections. In doing so, they are going to kill the golden goose: the Internet. As I’ve said before, broadband is the magical driver of all things on the Internet.

  1. Amen, Om. What do you think is the biggest differentiator between the U.K. (or Hong Kong, or South Korean, or Scandinavian) market and ours? Simple geography? Subsidies? Something else?

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    1. I think it is competitive landscape and the geography.

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  2. Agreed. I am watching looming data caps, tiered billing, etc. with an awfully wary eye — and wondering how and when truly widespread broadband access can be both affordable and profitable.

    Right now, I am one of the lucky few in my rural area to have broadband, and I pay just over $50 for 15 mbps. For now.

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  3. Ok, I thought I would lighten your anguish. Please see http://bit.ly/fOeHRV to see the prices in India. $1100 for 50 Mbps, and $1900 for 100 Mbps!

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