Advancing the broadband competition in the Quad-Cities, Mediacom has rolled out its 1-gigabit-per-second service — the fastest internet available to customers in the region.
The technology, which equates to 1,000 megabits per second, is geared toward customers with "special demands," including online gamers, people who work from home and households with multiple internet devices, said JR Walden, Mediacom's chief technology officer. He introduced the service Tuesday to area business representatives and city officials during a public presentation in Moline.
To put that speed in perspective, 1-gig customers can download a two-hour HD movie in less than a minute.
While the majority of the company's residential customers use 100-200 megabits per second, Walden noted the boost will accommodate their future needs as internet data consumption increases each year.
"Customers do so much more on the internet every single day, and that uses more bandwidth, so we have to have a system that has the capability of keeping up with that," he said. "In three or four years, there will be a lot more things the average user can do on the internet."
So far, more than 200 customers in the Quad-Cities have signed up for the gigabit service, which was launched in January, and costs upward of $139.95 per month. A promotion for first-time customers reduces the price to $89.99 for the first year.
The high-speed internet is available in 309 communities in Iowa and 348 in Illinois, including 31 in Scott and Rock Island counties.
Mediacom also offers 60-, 100-, 200- and 500-megabits-per-second services.
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This marks the 11th time in the past 15 years that Mediacom has either increased residential internet speeds or added speed tiers.
Meanwhile, CenturyLink offers 1-gig services to customers in 11 communities, but not those in the Quad-Cities.
Following Mediacom's presentation Tuesday, Jeff Reiter, Bettendorf's economic development director, said more broadband competition in the marketplace will drive "better, faster and more economical services."
For roving internet users, the company has placed 249 "Xtream" Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the Quad-Cities, allowing customers to avoid using their data. Non-customers can access the free Xtream Wi-Fi for 30 minutes a month.
Since the summer of 2016, Mediacom has invested between $60 million and $80 million to fund these services in the Quad-Cities, said Phyllis Peters, spokeswoman for Mediacom. Those investments also have funded the addition of almost 30 new miles to Mediacom's fiber-based network in the community.
In 2015, Iowa lawmakers granted broadband providers and cell tower builders tax credits to cover 10 percent of expansion costs, plus 10 years of property tax relief.
Mediacom has more than 266,000 miles of underground fiber-optic cables in Iowa and Illinois.
In other business, the provider has upgraded its Connect2Compete program, which offers discounted internet to households with at least one child who qualifies for free or reduced school lunch.
Low-income families now can get 10 megabits per second for $9.99 a month.