Verizon's Top Home ISP Download Rate Hits 50 Mbps

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Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) on Tuesday raised the top download speed for its fiber-based Internet service in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, the areas where it competes with Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) for broadband customers.

New York customers of Verizon's FiOS paying $89.95 a month can now get download speeds of 50 megabits per second, up from 30 mbps.

The new speed appears to be the fastest offering from a major U.S. Internet service provider. At 50 mbps, users of Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL) iTunes Music Store could download a standard-length song — about 4 megabytes, or 50 megabits — in about a second.

Cablevision has a competing cable broadband service at 30 mbps, far faster than most cable companies.

Verizon spokeswoman Heather Wilner said the New York-based company is upgrading the speed because it's "always looking to give the best overall values," but acknowledged that competition was a factor.

In New Jersey and Connecticut, the service costs $139.95 per month. Wilner said consumer demand, competition and technological factors are behind the price differences.

In New York, FiOS is mainly available in the Long Island suburbs, which are also Cablevision strongholds.

In the three-state area, Verizon offers cheaper FiOS plans with 10 mbps or 20 mbps download speeds. In other states where FiOS is available, the speed tiers available are 5 mbps, 15 mbps and 30 mbps.