Verizon juices internet speeds to 750MB across Philly metro area

Verizon Communications Inc. says it will launch on Saturday a new super-fast internet tier that  will offer residential customers 750-megabit speeds for downloads and uploads.

Branded as FIOS Instant Internet, the product will cost $149.99 a month as a stand-alone internet service and $169.99 a month bundled with TV and landline phone. The prices do not include taxes and fees, but consumers of the new product also will not have to sign contracts. 

The company said there are no data-usage caps on the service that would lead to additional charges.

Verizon, which serves the northeastern United States, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, said Instant Internet will be available to about 80 percent of the homes in the Philadelphia market currently served by FIOS. Across its multistate footprint, Verizon said, Instant Internet will be available immediately to about seven million homes.

"No internet service provider has come close to offering upload and download speeds like these at such a massive scale as FIOS Instant Internet," said Ken Dixon,  president of Verizon's consumer landline business. "Ever since we decided to build the nation's largest 100 percent fiber-to-the-home network 14 years ago, we've been saying it's a future-proof technology."

Internet service providers, among them Verizon and Comcast Corp., have been boosting internet speeds as a marketing advantage and to stay ahead of galloping data demand as consumers stream entertainment over Netflix and Amazon and add laptops and tablets to their internet service.

In November, RCN Corp. said it would launch 1-gigabit internet speeds, though the small cable overbuilder serves only parts of Delaware County and the Allentown area in eastern Pennsylvania.

Chris Fenger, RCN's chief operating officer, said that data usage is growing at 35 percent to 50 percent a year, leading to the race to upgrade internet networks.

Comcast has a 2-gigabit service, branded as Gigabit Pro, that requires special wiring to homes. Comcast is promoting the service with a $149.99-a-month price with a two-year contact. Customers pay a one-time installation fee of $500.

Comcast also offers gigabit speeds to subscribers over its traditional cable lines, similar to RCN's offering, in Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and Nashville. Comcast expects to offer it in Miami, as well, but the company has not said when it would bring the service to Philadelphia.

Verizon said that its 750 megabits per second was a minimum speed, and that Instant Internet may, in fact, clock at a faster rate. In addition, it said, cable companies can't match the equally fast upload and download speeds.