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Verizon FiOS ups Internet speed; Bright House isn't worried

Verizon FiOS has launched another offensive in the ongoing Internet wars, but Bright House Networks isn't retreating.

In response to a growing demand for faster Internet service, Verizon announced Wednesday that it will be offering new Internet speed options nationwide in June. Its fastest speed option will jump to 300 megabits per second, dwarfing Bright House Network's Road Runner Lightning option, which runs at a mere 40 megabits per second.

To put that in perspective: With a speed of 15 megabits per second, Verizon's basic Internet speed package, users can download a two-hour, high-definition video in about 44 minutes. With 300 megabits per second, they can download that same video in two minutes.

Bright House, Verizon's main competitor in Tampa Bay, isn't worried about competing with the higher speeds, said spokesman Joe Durkin.

"Research indicates that the vast majority of customers do not have interest in these types of speeds for their homes, not to mention the potential expense," Durkin said. "Our network can deliver these speeds if we felt there was a residential market for it."

Depending on a customer's bundled package, Bright House's highest-speed Internet costs an additional $15 or $30 a month, Durkin said.

Verizon's 150 mbps Internet package costs $200.

Verizon spokesman Bob Elek said the company won't be announcing the price of the 300 mbps option until next month. He said 50 percent of FiOS' 5 million customers nationwide purchase a connection of 20 megabits per second or faster.

In a statement, Bob Mudge, president of Verizon's consumer and mass market business unit, said the higher bandwidths will help accommodate households that access the Internet with multiple devices at the same time, and that watch streaming videos, use video chat and play multiplayer online games.

"The ways we used the Internet and watched TV over the past 10 to 15 years have dramatically shifted," Mudge said. "With the emergence of smartphones, smart TVs, Blu-ray players, tablets and gaming consoles that also serve as over-the-top devices, consumers need more bandwidth to receive the highest-quality experience."

But Durkin said Bright House's highest-speed package can meet those needs easily.

"Whether you are downloading music or streaming video to your laptop or iPad, you can do it all with Road Runner Lightning," he said.