For an Internet service provider like Comcast, speed matters… because it matters to our customers. A decade ago, we were offering speeds of 1.5 Mbps. That was considered fast. I remember people asking at the time, "What are your customers going to do with all that speed?" We’ve come a long way since then and have certainly found ways to use the 1.5 Mbps and much more.

New technologies and online trends are driving the need for increasingly faster Internet speeds. We offer a solution to that: DOCSIS 3.0, ­also known as wideband. With wideband, we are now offering customers 50 Mbps downloads, which is about as fast as anyone is going at this point. This means you can download a typical 1.5 GB standard def movie (or the equivalent of 400 mp3 songs) in about 4 minutes. On a typical DSL connection that would literally take hours.

We have already rolled out wideband to about a dozen major cities and have plans to reach more than 30 million homes and businesses by the end of this year. We started in the Twin cities early last year, but recently announced expansion into the Bay Area. We’re also in the Greater Boston Metropolitan area, the Greater Philadelphia Metro area and New Jersey, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Seattle, Portland and Ft. Wayne. We’ll continue to launch additional markets over the next several months.

While that is great news, 50 Mbps is just the beginning of what’s possible with wideband technology. Wideband will bring an entirely new platform to create the innovative tools and applications of the future, much in the same way that broadband spurred the development of many video-rich applications that have become mainstream today. Wideband will also allow significant evolution for application development that will be available to a large number of American homes.

This platform will have the capability to deliver speeds in excess of 100 Mbps and higher in the future. That’s a far cry from the 1.5 Mbps we were offering ten years ago and I think it begs the same question that we heard when we launched broadband, "what are our customers going to do with all that speed?" I’m eager to find out.