Comcast launches high-speed internet here

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles and Buchanan are the first towns in southwestern Michigan to have access to the high-speed Internet connection broadband.
Broadband is said to be 50 times faster than a regular dial-up internet connection, and once connected to broadband, people have 24-hour access to the Internet.
Comcast, the cable company now offering broadband to its residential cable subscribers in Niles and Buchanan, made a presentation of their new cable service at the Niles Inn and Conference Center Tuesday.
Comcast officials said people who already subscribe to Comcast's cable service will be offered broadband for $19.99 for the first six months.
After the first six months, the officials said the price will increase to the regular residential fee, which is currently $43.95.
After a short but thorough explanation of the broadband concept by Mark Smith, a Comcast marketing analyst, guests were able to step into a Comcast bus rigged with four computers hooked up to the high speed Internet connection.
The bus was parked at the conference center's parking lot.
Lt. Scott Reith of the Niles City Fire Department sat in on Comcast's presentation.
When the presentation was done, he was among those who tried out the computers inside the bus.
Reith, who went to college to become a computer programmer but ended up as a fireman instead, has no doubts as to what broadband will mean for the future.
Chris Coultas, a Comcast high-speed Internet technician working on the Comcast bus, said people who tried the computers Tuesday were excited about the speed broadband offers.
By 1 p.m., he said six people had already signed up for broadband subscriptions.
Coultas, who lives in Niles but works in South Bend, Ind., said for people today surfing the Internet, speed is everything.
Coultas said people who are connected to DSL, which is another fast Internet connection, are even switching over to broadband because of the increase in speed broadband offers.
Laury Marsh, a Comcast corporate affairs and public relations manager, said everyone with cable access can subscribe to the new service.
She also said people who have cable access can subscribe to broadband without having to connect to cable TV.
But although broadband is fast, Comcast doesn't guarantee the speed of the Internet connection.
Having worked in the cable industry for a long time, he has seen the market swing from good to bad.
He has also seen the changes in technology and how it has influenced the industry.

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