[qi:gigaom_icon_4G] Updated with more service related details : Comcast (s CMCSA), the largest U.S. cable company and one of the country’s biggest broadband service providers, says it has started to sell a new wireless broadband service called High-Speed 2go across cities in its cable footprint. Here are some facts:
- Comcast will offer its own wireless laptop cards and the service will not have any voice component. The card is free with a 1 year contract or it can be purchased for $99 and customers can go month to month. If you switch from a phone company, Comcast will waive off the $99 it charges for the card.
- It’s a combination of Clearwire’s WiMAX-based wireless broadband and Sprint’s (s s) 3G EVDO data. The nationwide laptop device automatically switches between available 4G and 3G networks. On the 3G service (provided by Sprint) there is a 5 GB amount of data usage included in the plan. The 4G service will follow Clearwire’s terms of service.
- Comcast High-Speed 2go Metro service will use a 4G-only data card giving customers the 4G service in their metro coverage area.
- The service is available today only in Portland, but will be available in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia and more cities by end of 2009.
- Consumers can pay $69.99 a month for a “fast pack” national offering that buys them unlimited wireless data and a 12 Mbps home broadband offering. A metro-only service will cost $49.99 a month.
- High-Speed 2go will also be sold to small-to-mid-sized businesses through the Comcast Business Services sales teams.
I think telephone companies will now start to respond more aggressively with their own 3G offerings, possibly lowering prices, which is not such a bad thing from a consumer perspective. I have many other questions — I am waiting, for example, for Comcast to tell me if there are any bandwidth caps as part of this new deal.
I like that Comcast, which had previously invested in Clearwire, is launching this service but its chances are going to be determined by how aggressively it’s available nationwide. I wish it was being launched in more than a one token city. I think that by the time Comcast and Clearwire get their national act together, we can most certainly expect the likes of Verizon (s vz) to launch its own 4G wireless broadband services.