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Comcast to bring 100-gigabit speeds to Charleston businesses with new fiber network

The week in review (copy)

Comcast said Wednesday it would begin marketing internet plans reaching speeds up to 100 gigabits per second to businesses. File

Nevermind gigabit internet. Comcast Corp. says it can offer broadband 100 times as fast to Charleston companies willing to pay for it. 

Comcast, one of the region's largest internet providers, said Wednesday it would begin marketing plans reaching speeds up to 100 gigabits per second to businesses.

The news comes along with the announcement that Comcast has finished a $14-million upgrade to its fiber network in the Charleston area.

Comcast announced it has finished laying a 122-mile network of fiber optic cable that will power the speedier offering, which is geared for commercial customers with massive data needs.

Gigabit internet — which represents 1,000 megabits per second in download speeds — is already 40 times faster than the Federal Communications Commission's minimum standard. The 100 gigabit-per-second internet would be 4,000 times faster than the government's standard.

Comcast said it will be the first to offer those speeds in Charleston. They were first implemented by major government agencies that need to handle huge amounts of information. 

The U.S. Department of Energy has had a 100 gigabit- per-second-capable network for its researchers and collaborators since late 2014, for example. Mike Thibodeaux, senior director of enterprise sales for Comcast's southern region, said industries like health care, manufacturing and finance have started to see their own needs for higher-capacity networks. 

"Those fractions of a second count," he said.

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Comcast has announced other 100 gigabit-per-second-capable networks across the country, but Charleston's business community will be the first to have access in South Carolina. Comcast made a similar announcement across the state line in Augusta in August 2018.

Gigabit speeds first arrived in the area in 2013, when local company Home Telecom wired the Nexton community in Summerville with fiber. Several other internet providers offer gigabit speeds on fiber networks to businesses and individuals. 

Comcast rolled out gigabit speeds to almost all of the 58 million homes and businesses in its footprint by October 2018. Xfinity customers in Charleston can buy access to gigabit internet for roughly $80 per month. Slower plans cost as little as $20 per month. 

Gigabit speeds are fast enough to download a movie in a matter of seconds, Comcast spokesman Alex Horwitz said. An individual customer would have little use for speeds much faster than that.

But small-business owners could also benefit: Comcast will be selling the plans at varying prices based on companies' needs.

For large health care organizations, financial institutions and government agencies, accessing the speedier service could mean sharing a medical image instantaneously, being the first to submit a bid or sharing large files.

Comcast said the new network will also be useful to businesses that need to keep operating during a hurricane or major storm. Having backup, or redundant, networks keeps those organizations online in the event that one network is disrupted by weather. 

Comcast says it has doubled the length of fiber cable in its network across the country in the last four years.

Horwitz said the new network could help encourage major businesses with high data demands to consider picking Charleston. 

Reach Mary Katherine Wildeman at 843-937-5594. Follow her on Twitter @mkwildeman.

Mary Katherine, who also goes by MK, is a reporter covering health care and technology for The Post and Courier's business desk. She grew up in upstate New York and enjoys playing cards, kayaking and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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