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updated: 2/24/2016 11:55 AM

Internet providers put pedal to the metal

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  • Comcast announced it will bring its DOCSIS 3.1 gigabyte technology to the Chicago area later this year, providing the fastest Internet speeds for residential and business customers through its existing infrastructure.

    Comcast announced it will bring its DOCSIS 3.1 gigabyte technology to the Chicago area later this year, providing the fastest Internet speeds for residential and business customers through its existing infrastructure.
    File photo

  • AT&T has recently expanded its 1 Gigabyte Internet service to Pingree Grove, Plano and Sugar Grove, bringing a total of 19 suburbs that can connect to the telecom's GigaPower high-speed Internet service.

    AT&T has recently expanded its 1 Gigabyte Internet service to Pingree Grove, Plano and Sugar Grove, bringing a total of 19 suburbs that can connect to the telecom's GigaPower high-speed Internet service.
    File photo

  • Comcast announced it will bring its DOCSIS 3.1 gigabyte technology to the Chicago area later this year, providing the fastest Internet speeds for residential and business customers through its existing infrastructure.

    Comcast announced it will bring its DOCSIS 3.1 gigabyte technology to the Chicago area later this year, providing the fastest Internet speeds for residential and business customers through its existing infrastructure.
    File photo

 

Are you feeling the need for speed?

If so, then strap in and get ready to ride the next wave of multi-gigabyte Internet speed that's coming to the region. The Chicago metropolitan area is getting a nitro-boost of Internet power as the area's major players ratchet up their offerings.

Comcast recently began rolling out its new DOCSIS 3.1 Gigabyte technology in key cities. The telecommunications giant began the rollout in its home base of Philadelphia, and is currently expanding to Atlanta and Nashville. Chicago -- along with Detroit and Miami -- will join the DOCSIS 3.1-enabled cities later this year.

What makes the technology unique is that Comcast is using its existing infrastructure to offer the power boost for its Xfinity and Comcast Business Internet customers. The only upgrade customers will need is a compatible modem, according to Jack Sagel, vice president of corporate communications for Comcast Greater Chicago Region based in Schaumburg.

"This is a really exciting development, because we'll be able to use the lines already serving businesses and homes to deliver the new service," Sagel said. "There won't be a need for construction or permitting to reach business and residential customers in our service area. No construction means we won't have to dig up streets or yards."

While Comcast already offers fast Internet services, such as its 2-Gigabyte Gigabit Pro residential service and Business Class services of up to 10 gigabytes, the new DOCSIS 3.1 service marks a major step for ultra high-speed Internet, the company said. Since the new technology uses existing connections, it can make the 3 gig-plus speeds available more widely than fiber optic services, which typically require new construction and specialized installation.

It's all part of Comcast's strategy of staying ahead of the curve for its customers, Sagel said.

"Comcast works to stay ahead of consumer demand," he said. "In fact, Comcast has been doubling its network capacity every 18 months to stay ahead of demand and we've been the speed leader here for more than a decade. We've increased our Internet speeds 16 times in the last 14 years."

Modem and service pricing has not been set yet, but will be announced when the company is closer to the local rollout, Sagel said.

Meanwhile, AT&T said it has expanded its 1 gigabyte Internet service to residential and commercial customers in parts of Pingree Grove, Plano and Sugar Grove. The communities join parts of Aurora, Bolingbrook, Chicago, Des Plaines, Elgin, Huntley, Joliet, Manhattan, Mundelein, Norridge, Oswego, Plainfield, Shorewood, Skokie, Volo, and Yorkville that are eligible for the provider's GigaPower network, the provider said in a release.

AT&T GigaPower uses fiber-optic networks to provide speeds up to 1 gig per second.

"This investment in some of the fastest Internet speeds available will help small businesses compete in a modern economy and offers residential customers the high-speed connectivity so many are demanding today," said Paul La Schiazza, president of AT&T Illinois.

AT&T has invested more than $3 billion in its wireless and wired networks in Illinois between 2012 through 2014, the company said, driving a wide range of upgrades to reliability, coverage, speed and performance for its customers.