Comcast is cranking up its download speeds in Charleston, ramping up an Internet arms race that has seen the region’s providers increasingly compete over the snappiness of their service.
The cable giant, which does business under the Xfinity brand, says customers on its most popular plans will see their download speeds increase by 50 percent of more. Users who pay for 100 megabits-per-second service will be bumped up to 150 Mbps. People who had 150 Mbps will now get 250 Mbps.
The company — one of the Charleston area’s largest providers — says the changes will cover 75 percent of its customers. By comparison, only about half of Charleston County had access to 250 Mbps downloads at the end of 2016, federal data show.
Speed has been central to Internet service providers’ strategy in the region over the past few years. For the most part, it has focused on the high end as providers race to offer ultra-fast downloads across the Lowcountry. Every major competitor here now offers at least limited gigabit service, which reaches 1,000 Mbps.
Comcast says the faster service should now be active, but customers need to reset their modems for them to kick in.
The Charleston Digital Corridor has gotten the green light to move forward with its plans to build a new technology-focused office building on the upper peninsula.
The city’s Board of Architectural Review gave its blessing this month to plans for an 80,000-square-foot building on Morrison Drive, which will house the organization’s new shared office space.
The Digital Corridor — a tech-focused economic-development group founded by the city — has been pushing for years for a new building, but it faced financing delays. It’s returning with more ambitious plans, including twice the space it initially planned.
Not all of the extra space will be taken by the organization, however. Its Flagship3 space is only intended as an anchor to the larger development, which is now being called the Charleston Technology Center. The long-run hope is to pull larger tech tenants into the region.
The building is currently slated to open in 2020.
Charleston-based Benefitfocus has snagged a top executive from the human-resources consulting giant Mercer.
Joining Benefitfocus, which sells software that manages employee benefits, is Ken Haderer, Mercer’s president for North America and its former operations chief. Benefitfocus is creating a new job for him, executive vice president for global operations.
The appointment comes at a key juncture for Benefitfocus, which has a management team that’s almost all new. The 18-year-old company is only months into the tenure of its second-ever chief executive, who’s pushing to make a company that’s gotten pretty big into an HR giant.
The company, which is headquartered on Daniel Island, claims 20 million users, and it says $50 billion crosses its platform each year as companies and workers pay for services like health insurance. Its goal is to grow revenue by selling to new employers, improving its relationship with insurance brokers and making more money from the pool of users it already has.
“We are absolutely committed to growing our market-leading position, strengthening our customer and broker relationships and achieving operational excellence,” Benefitfocus CEO Ray August said in a statement. “He will be a tremendous asset to our customers, a strong ally with all of our broker partners and a great mentor to our Benefitfocus associates.”
Reach Thad Moore at 843-937-5703. Follow him on Twitter @thadmoore.