What Is the Standard Mbps Rate With Comcast Cable?

by John Papiewski ; Updated September 13, 2017

Comcast's high-speed internet is comparable in cost and performance to similar broadband offerings from Verizon, Spectrum and other national telecom companies. Comcast has several different packages with standard speed rates ranging from about 10 Mbps for the most economical to the highest-performing 2,000 Mbps. All of the plans deliver enough internet oomph for web and streaming video, though hardcore gamers and multi-user households will want Comcast’s higher-performing services.

Mbps Rate Defined

The acronym Mbps means “mega bits per second” or “millions of bits per second,” a unit defining the speed of data transmission. Computer data is sent as a series of simple on-off electrical impulses called bits. To stream HD video without interruptions, for example, you need an internet connection with a speed of at least a few megabits per second – and that’s per user. The more users you have, all sharing the same connection, the greater the need for speed.

Comcast Data Plans

Comcast, as with most competing internet service providers, offers “tiers” of service, letting you choose the speed you need at the price you can afford. Their lowest-cost tier, 10 Mbps, is suitable for the average needs of one or two people. The most expensive standard tier provides 350 Mbps that can handle several people, giving each very high-speed service for gaming or HD video. A “Gig-speed” service, available in select cities, has a speed of 2,000 Mbps or 2 Gigabits (billion bits) per second.

Real-World Performance

Advertised data rates are a maximum figure. The actual speed you get varies depending on real-world conditions, such as weather, condition of the cable, and internet traffic. During an emergency, for example, more people use the internet to get news and communicate with others, creating a data “traffic jam.” During these times the data speed for a given user may go down dramatically. Speed also varies by time of day, with dips possible during the workday as overall demand increases. The variance in speed is why Comcast and other service providers advertise data speeds as “up to” a given Mbps figure.

Data Caps

To keep a small number of customers from bogging the network down with heavy data usage, Comcast limits an account’s total monthly data usage. The limitation is called a data cap; the current cap is 1 TB or terabyte of information, 1 trillion bytes or 8 trillion bits. This is roughly the data used in 700 hours of HD video. Since few users ever reach this cap, most won’t be affected by it. Those who exceed the cap, however, are charged a fee. According to Comcast’s current policy, the first two times a customer exceeds the monthly data cap, the fee is waived. For an extra monthly charge, Comcast offers an unlimited data plan which has no cap.

About the Author

Chicago native J.T. Barett has a Bachelor of Science in physics from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing since 1991. He has contributed to "Foresight Update," a nanotechnology newsletter from the Foresight Institute. He also contributed to the book, "Nanotechnology: Molecular Speculations on Global Abundance."

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