Comcast has increased speeds for its cable Internet subscribers in Sonoma County.

Speed increases have been rolled out across the country by Comcast; Sebastopol got the higher speeds at some point in the last 48 hours. Basic Comcast Internet service now provides download speeds of 6 megabytes per second, up from 4Mbps. For an extra ten dollars a month, download speed can be increased to 8Mbps. Upload speeds are increased as well: 384k for basic service and 768k for the upgraded service.

By way of comparison, typical DSL service tops out at about 1.5Mbps. Until recently, the fabled “T-1” line used by big companies at great expense also ran at 1.5Mbps. The idea that speeds like this are available to consumers is kind of mind boggling. As I understand it, there are many parts of the world where these high speeds are more readily available than in the United States; it lays the groundwork for voice over IP (using your Internet connection for phone calls), movies on demand, and other services. We’re already using programs hosted online instead of installed on our computers – think about web sites for sharing photos, for example. But a fast and reliable Internet connection may someday cause that to be the norm instead of an interesting exception.