Latest Comcast Modem Takes Aim At Google Fiber -- And Partners See A Big Opportunity

Telecommunications behemoth Comcast stands to change the rules of high-speed Internet with the unveiling of a new modem that it says allows users to hit fiber-like speeds with no costly infrastructure.

Comcast partners looking forward to getting their hands on the new modems say that the offering competes directly with Google's high-speed Internet service, Google Fiber.

"Comcast is really serious about building up to higher speeds to compete with anyone offering gigabit speeds," said Luis Alvarez, president and CEO of Salinas, Calif.-based IT services provider and Comcast partner Alvarez Technology Group Inc.

[Related: Comcast's Strong Q4 2015 Earnings Fortified By Big Gains In Business Services Division ]

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The latest modem could be a great option for small business customers, and Comcast will need the channel's help selling the offering, Alvarez said.

Google Fiber touts connection speeds of 1 Gbps, about 80 times faster than the average U.S. Internet speed. Comcast's latest Docsis 3.1 modem is also capable of supporting 1 Gbps download speeds and maxes out at a 10 Gbps, according to the carrier. But unlike Google Fiber, which requires fiber infrastructure, Comcast's modem can achieve these speeds using its existing cable network, Comcast said.

"If that really turns out to be the case, where you can take existing infrastructure and slap a new modem on it to go from 200 megabits to a gigabit, that's going to be huge," Alvarez said. "They are going to need the channel to promote this because the reality is that most businesses don't know, don't understand the variances in speed."

Comcast hasn't announced pricing for the Docsis 3.1 modem yet, and hasn't said when the product will be made available to the channel. But partners are already champing at the bit.

"We'll definitely be pushing this when it's available to us to resell, because our customers need the bandwidth," said Jeffrey Lee, vice president and chief technology officer for Carceron, an Atlanta-based IT managed services provider that partners with both Comcast and Google.

Carceron sells Comcast through its relationship with MicroCorp, an Atlanta-based master agent. Carceron usually sets restrictions on its customers' firewalls to limit specific traffic -- like Facebook and YouTube -- because of bandwidth limitations. But with an offering like the new modem, Carceron will be able to relax those limitations because significantly more bandwidth will be available, Lee said.

Providing high-capacity, fairly priced connectivity solutions will help partners support their customers using the Internet in new and innovative ways, like for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, said Darryl Senese, vice president of carrier services for Atrion Networking, a Warwick, R.I.-based IT solution provider and Comcast partner.

"I think Comcast is continuing to trend set to provide greater capacity and speed, and I think others will follow," Senese said.

Carceron plans to combine Google Fiber and the latest Comcast modem once the offering is available to the channel to create a powerful primary and backup option for its customers, Lee said.

"If Google Fiber is in the area, why not do both? It would make a great offering, because the chances of both Comcast and Google being down is going to be next to nothing. We can also do backups more often, not just in the middle of the night," he said.

Comcast also has its own fiber service that's faster than Google Fiber, Gigabit Pro. Comcast's Gigabit Pro can support download speeds up to 2 Gbps, compared with Google Fiber's 1 Gbps, according to the carrier, but the service carries a high price tag of about $300 a month excluding installation costs. The service is also available only in limited areas where Comcast has rolled out fiber.