Comcast Speeds Up--But Keeps Download Cap in Place

— -- Comcast cable Internet users will soon have access to speedier Web access. The company is launching two new tiers of service, and also has announced plans to double the down- and upload speeds of existing plans. The new plans aren't cheap, though. And Comcast has kept its 250GB monthly download cap for residential customers in place--so customers could potentially hit their limit much sooner.

Extreme 50, the fastest plan Comcast will offer, uses wideband technology to deliver 50 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 10 Mbps of upstream speed for $139.95 per month. With Extreme 50, residential customers will be able to download a 6GB full-length HD movie in 16 minutes, a 2GB standard def movie in 5 minutes, and 300MB standard definition television shows in "a matter of seconds," Comcast says.

The other tier, Ultra, brings 22 Mbps of downstream speed and up to 5 Mbps of upstream speed for $62.95 per month. (Business customers can also take advantage of Ultra's speeds with a new Premium package, which offers the same speeds for $99.95 per month.)

Comcast's existing Performance Plus and Performance services will see an increase to 16 and 12 Mbps on the downstream, respectively, and 2 Mbps upstream for both. The prices for those services will remain the same.

This upped torque will be rolled out to business and residential customers in Boston, southern New Hampshire, and areas of Philadelphia and New Jersey over the next few weeks. In the next few months, Comcast hopes these updated services will reach more than 10 major markets and hit 10 million homes and businesses.

Yet the download cap problem persists, making these upped speeds akin to dangling a carrot above a heavy downloader before pulling it away at the last minute. Those choosing the Extreme 50 plan can enjoy unheard-of speeds until they hit 250GB; after that, they run the risk of having their account shut down for a calendar year.