Comcast deploys DOCSIS 3.1 in Pittsburgh, still not disclosing number of gigabit customers

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Steelers fans in Pittsburgh can now stream highlights of rookie standout JuJu Smith Schuster in 4K/HDR on up to 40 televisions at once, now that Comcast has deployed DOCSIS 3.1-powered 1-gig services in the Pittsburgh area. 

Yes, indeed, the steel city is the latest town in the Comcast footprint to offer 1-gig services for a one-year promotional price of $79.99 a month, bumping up to $104.95 after that first year. (Comcast says most of the Pittsburgh area is switched on, with select regions like Beaver County coming online by the end of the year.)

At least for now, Comcast appears to have the Pittsburgh market cornered on 1-gig services, with its most strident competition, Verizon, only offering Fios speeds of 500 Mbps. 

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“I'm thrilled that Pittsburgh is now a gig city. Just like cities grew by being railroad hubs in the 19th century, they'll prosper by having ultra-fast internet connectivity in the 21st,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement released by Comcast.

Of course, with Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson openly discussing the need to explain to customers what they can do with all the bandwidth, heads are beginning to be scratched again regarding the cable industry’s aggressive rush into gigabit speed supremacy. 

Comcast hasn't released figures as to how many of its customers are currently signed on for 1-gig services. 

During Comcast's third-quarter earnings call last week, company CFO Mike Cavanagh noted that “55% of our residential customers now take speeds of 100 megabits per second or higher compared to 36% a year ago. Our plan is to continue to invest to enhance our competitive differentiation by improving speed, coverage and capabilities. For speed, today, we're rolling out DOCSIS 3.1, which efficiently enables to--us to offer gigabit speeds. We expect to have this available to the majority of our homes by year-end.”

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Mediacom recently conceded that it has only leased about 12,000 DOCSIS 3.1 gateways, despite the fact that the technology is available across its 22-state footprint. 

“I continue to be a naysayer,” Mediacom CTO Dan Walden said at the SCTE’s CableTec Expo trade show in Denver two weeks ago. “There’s nothing you need a gig for. Still, there’s something magical about 1 gig. They want it. We’ve done focus groups, and users kind of understand that a gig is probably more than what they need. It’s like a security blanket for them.”

Speaking to FierceCable at CableTec Expo, CableLabs CEO Phil McKinney noted that few household applications could come close to fully utilizing 1 gigabit per second worth of bandwidth. Even with 4K streaming, a residential customer would have to have 40 televisions doing it simultaneously to come close to the 1-gig threshold.

So what’s the top application for the few homes that do have 1-gig service at this point. “SpeedTest,” McKinney said. 

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