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Comcast Corporation was formed in 1963 as American Cable Systems. It was incorporated under its present name in Pennsylvania in 1969 and acquired the assets of AT&T Broadband, the largest cable television operator, in 2001. It is now the largest cable operator in the US. As of September 2009, it served 39 states and the District of Columbia and had 23.8 million cable customers, 15.7 million high speed internet customers and 7.4 million voice customers.
To see what's available, access the website at www.comcast.com. Comcast cable is essentially what's on offer, with voice, television and highspeed Comcast internet service coming via fiber optic cable, although not right into the home (even till the end of 2009, Verizon were claiming sole custody of that product). There's a range of internet deals that provide various speeds at different prices.
Comcast broadband comes with a Powerboost feature for most subscribers that speeds up the first few seconds of downloads. There's also online security and a Smartzone communications center that combines email, voice messages and address books in one place. In January 2010, the company announced completion of the rollout of its next generation DOCSIS 3.0 wideband service in western Massachusetts, with download speeds of up to 50 mbps and increases for most existing customers, whether for business internet or residential use.
Coverage for the service is not universal and a zip code checker is provided to determine availability before you join. Currently, people in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington are most likely to get service. When you do sign up, a self-install kit is supplied so you can get a connection quickly. Other services are available for signup, including an IP-enabled phone service and High-Speed 2Go, its 4G wireless data service.
The company does have a reputation for poor customer service, which is reflected in various reviews. The American Customer Satisfaction Index survey gave it the worst customer satisfaction rating of any company or government agency in 2004 and 2007. Whilst the cable industry in general scored poorly, the company was found to be below average and not improving.
Customers in Philadelphia complained in 2007 that the ISP was blocking packets being sent through BitTorrent and other services. Although it claimed it was simply managing traffic at times of heavy usage, the company eventually agreed to pay out $16 million to settle a class action. However, this only amounted to $16 for each affected customer.
A monthly 250 GB cap on downloads and uploads combined was introduced from 1st October 2008. Exceeding the cap for the first time will result in an email warning and a second offense will lead to a suspension of service. Although the company insists that median usage is 2-4 GBs per month, it ran a trial in Oregon of an internet usage meter with the aim of rolling it out nationwide. This will allow customers to keep track of their usage and avoid breeching the limit.
The start of 2010 saw consumer groups calling for government agencies to investigate TV Everywhere, which is spearheaded by Comcast and Time Warner cable. The initiative appears to involve cable operators pressuring content providers to make their content available on the internet only to those viewers who have paid a cable TV subscription as well as for an internet connection. This means that someone paying for Comcast DSL will not see certain programs via the internet unless they also take on a TV package. The YouTube Copyright Wars might be essential news reading for people interested in that battle. †