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I was an accidental tourist Tuesday for a small bit of cable internet history, when I decided an after-hours crowd with Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts and converged products head Sam Schwartz at the center was worth an unscheduled stop at the Comcast booth. That’s how I saw Roberts live demo 1Gbps over a consumer network — a first for Comcast and, the company believes, a first overall for an outside-the-lab demo of this sort.
Roberts started the demo, which was being videotaped for the Thursday general session, by downloading the full fifth season of 30 Rock — all 23 episodes — in roughly 1 minute and 40 seconds while he talked about the evolution of the cable data delivery starting with Docsis 1.0. The download was being delivered from 11 miles away via Comcast’s Chicago cable network. When that was done, Roberts ran a speed test that showed 1080+ on the speedometer.
The crowd, mostly Comcast employees, applauded the one-take demo.
It’s not the launch of a new product and Comcast has yet to say publicly what it’s going to do with this power. It’s also not the first time Roberts has shown off download speeds. During a CES keynote in 2008, he downloaded Batman Begins plus a trailer in four minutes to tout Comcast’s Project Infinity and the potential of Wideband. Now it;s all about Xfinity — and much of Roberts showed off that day in Las Vegas is reality and some is already being used by consumers.
But this demo is a glimpse at the new consumer cable future, at least for those who will be able to afford it. And it shows that cable isn’t ceding any ground to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and its 1Gbps fiber-to-home experiment coming in Kansas City, Kan.