The company announced its plans in a blog post today, claiming that it will roll out ultra-fast internet to 18 million homes by the end of 2015, starting the process in Atlanta next month. Google currently offers 1 Gbps services in selected areas of three U.S. cities, writes Klint Finley for Wired.

Comcast To Provide Ultra-Fast Internet By 2016

Comcast: How many people will actually sign up?

The impending ultra-fast internet war between Comcast and Google looks set to be an interesting one, with the two companies taking radically different approaches to their rollout. Comcast plans to get as many people as possible on board, while Google is taking its service to one neighborhood at a time. It is hoped that faster internet will improve the performance of streaming services and other applications, but also enable the development of a new generation of advanced programs.

Although Comcast aims to make its service available to the majority of its subscribers, adoption rates may be poor seeing as customers may be asked to foot the bill for laying fiber to individual homes. Pricing of the new service has not yet been detailed, but is expected to be dependent on competition in specific areas. If set-up costs are so high that it deters potential customers then the offer of nationwide coverage becomes much less impressive.

Potential impact on Time Warner Cable merger

However the use of a network protocol called DOCSIS 3.1 could provide 1 Gbps speeds to everyone in Comcast’s existing network, which would make the company the first nationwide gigabit provider. Other companies such as CenturyLink and AT&T are also introducing gigabit services, but in limited areas of selected cities.

Comcast is currently awaiting approval from the Federal Communications Commission for its takeover of Time Warner Cable. Consumer advocacy groups have opposed the deal and the FCC has delayed its decision until the middle of the year, with many commentators predicting that the deal will not go through as a result.

The ultra-fast internet proposal could be one way of convincing the courts to let the deal pass, because it would enable Comcast to offer the service to existing Time Warner Cable customers as well as their own.