[qi:gigaom_icon_4G] Updated with more service related details : Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company and one of the country’s biggest broadband service providers, says it has started to sell a new wireless broadband service called High-Speed 2go across cities in its cable footprint. Here are some facts:
- Comcast will offer its own wireless laptop cards and the service will not have any voice component. The card is free with a 1 year contract or it can be purchased for $99 and customers can go month to month. If you switch from a phone company, Comcast will waive off the $99 it charges for the card.
- It’s a combination of Clearwire’s WiMAX-based wireless broadband and Sprint’s 3G EVDO data. The nationwide laptop device automatically switches between available 4G and 3G networks. On the 3G service (provided by Sprint) there is a 5 GB amount of data usage included in the plan. The 4G service will follow Clearwire’s terms of service.
- Comcast High-Speed 2go Metro service will use a 4G-only data card giving customers the 4G service in their metro coverage area.
- The service is available today only in Portland, but will be available in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and more cities by end of 2009.
- Consumers can pay $69.99 a month for a “fast pack” national offering that buys them unlimited wireless data and a 12 Mbps home broadband offering. A metro-only service will cost $49.99 a month.
- High-Speed 2go will also be sold to small-to-mid-sized businesses through the Comcast Business Services sales teams.
I think telephone companies will now start to respond more aggressively with their own 3G offerings, possibly lowering prices, which is not such a bad thing from a consumer perspective. I have many other questions — I am waiting, for example, for Comcast to tell me if there are any bandwidth caps as part of this new deal.
I like that Comcast, which had previously invested in Clearwire, is launching this service but its chances are going to be determined by how aggressively it’s available nationwide. I wish it was being launched in more than a one token city. I think that by the time Comcast and Clearwire get their national act together, we can most certainly expect the likes of Verizon to launch its own 4G wireless broadband services.