Comcast plans to offer higher-speed residential Internet service – up to 2 gigabits-per-second – to about 1.5 million homes in Michigan markets by next month, the cable company said Tuesday.

As competition for Internet customers intensifies, Comcast is touting it’s service as the fastest nationwide — even faster than Rocket Fiber, which is creating a 1-gigabit network in downtown Detroit and Midtown.

“Michigan is swarming with tech-savvy residents who have a need for even faster speeds,” Tim Collins, senior vice president of Comcast’s Heartland Region said. “Bringing this new level of fast to our customers reflects more than just our commitment to meeting their needs today, but also into the future.”

Comcast’s enhanced broadband service, which is being called Gigabit Pro, is set to be offered in metro Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson and Lansing, and will allow for faster downloads on multiple devices.

No prices have been announced; but Comcast is calling it a “premium service,” suggesting a higher price tag for customers.

“Most households probably won’t need that speed,” said Comcast spokesman Randy Jones. “But there are some users who will find it appealing. It is lightening fast. We’re working very hard to get this in the marketplace.”

Most homes now measure their broadband speeds in megabits per second. A gigabit is 1,000 megabits.

Cable and other Internet providers are adding faster and faster digital connections as customers demand more streaming video, complex digital games and other services that require more bandwidth.

To get an idea of how fast 2 gigabits-per-second is, Jones said, customers with this service should be able to download a high-definition movie in about 12 seconds, or a 30-minute TV show in 2 seconds.

At 8 megabits a second, it would take nearly 8 minutes to download a TV show.

The average Internet connection in Michigan now is 12.7 megabits per second, according to Massachusetts-based Akamai Technologies.

Other Internet companies — some building new networks — are racing to offer high-speed broadband service.

Rocket Fiber, which is backed by businessman Dan Gilbert, expects to offer 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service in downtown Detroit and Midtown by the end of the year.

East Lansing-based LightSpeed Communications offers 1 gigabit residential Internet service in some parts of Lansing since last fall and plans to offer it in Southfield neighborhoods this summer.

The company had said it expected to charge a promotional rate of about $50 a month, and then $50-$70.

Bob Trezise, president and CEO of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, said the service helps make the community more attractive to businesses and homeowners that want and need the faster service. In many cases now, he added, residential Internet users are entrepreneurs operating out of their homes.

“It’s imperative businesses and neighborhoods have access to that speed,” he said. “The competition is starting.”

Outside Michigan, Comcast also plans to offer the Gigabit Pro service in: Atlanta, California, Colorado, Florida, Greater Chicago, Houston, Indiana, Portland, Ore., Chattanooga, Knoxville and Nashville, Tenn., the Twin Cities in Minnesota, Utah and Washington.

Contact Frank Witsil: 313-222-5022 or fwitsil@freepress.com

How much speed do you need

1-10 megabits-per-second: One computer and no mobile devices.

25 megabits-per-second: Up to five devices that are being used for Internet surfing, minimal video watching.

50 megabits-per-second: Multiple people on the network at the same time, with smartphones, tablets and computers, that are gaming, video conferencing and streaming video.

105 megabits-per-second: Downloading and storing movies and TV shows, frequent gaming.

Source: Comcast