Quebec SMBs can accelerate to 50 Mbps on Web

It was a little later than promised, but Videotron has begun to deploy the fastest city-wide SMB and residential Internet connectivity in North America.

The Quebec cable company said Wednesday it will start its wideband Ultimate Speed Internet 50 service for businesses, offering 50 Mbps download speed in the Montreal suburb of Laval for $149.95 a month on a 12 month subscription. That includes a 100 Gbps monthly data download limit.

If that’s too steep, organizations can pay $119.95 for the Ultimate 30 service, which has a download speed of 30 Mbps.

Residential customers in Laval are being offered the Ultimate 50 service for $79.95 a month with a 50 Gbps monthly data limit or the Ultimate Speed Internet 30 service for $64.95 per month with a 30 Gbps data limit. Until now Videotron’s fastest speed was 20 Mbps.

Ultimate service will be expanded across the province later said Pierre Roy, the company’s vice-president of IT technology, but there is no timetable on where or when.

For now, Videotron is also still offering its 20Mbps Extreme Plus High Speed Internet at the same price as the new Ultimate 50. However, Bertrand Herbert, the company’s senior manager of marketing for telephony and Internet, said it may be discontinued.

Telecommunications analyst Iain Grant of the SeaBoard Group hailed the new offerings, but was quick to note that the fastest Internet connectivity can be had only in Quebec and Western Canada, where Shaw Communications offers its 25 Mbps Nitro service for $93 a month.

Left out is the most populous area of the country, southern Ontario, where Rogers Communications and Bell Canada face each other with relatively sluggish speeds.

“Both Rogers and Bell seem to have established a truce,” said Grant, “in which neither is shaking sticks or trying to move much up over the 7 Mbps they both offer.” [Bell says its Total Internet Max service hits 16 Mbps, while Rogers says its Extreme Plus service reaches 18Mbps.]

“That’s a shame,” said Grant, “especially since Bell is struggling a little bit. One would think that Rogers’ best interest would be to increase the struggle. Instead, it seems Rogers is tossing (Bell) as a bit of a rope.” Videotron has been testing wideband cable technology from Cisco Systems for the past 12 months, claiming test speeds of up to 100Mbps. It had vowed to bring in full service in 2007.

While the technology was capable of rocket speed, Hebert said customers surveyed during the test didn’t see a need for much more than 50 Mbps right now. Videotron also wanted to offer an affordable service, he added.

Laval was chosen because of its demographics, Hebert said, with more families than downtown Montreal, which has large singles population. Internet users in Laval are more likely to want to run multiple applications on their PCs, he said, and therefore want fast speeds.

According to recent statistics from the 30-country Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development, the fastest average advertised download speeds are in Japan (93 Mbps), France (44 Mbps), Korea (43 Mbps) and Sweden (21 Mbps). Japan has the fastest residential download speed available among OECD members at 1 Gbps.

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