NEW YORK, June 18 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications is halving the price of its fastest Internet speed as it introduces a service that has double the speed, amping up competition with its cable arch rivals such as Comcast Corp , Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems Corp.
Verizon said it has cut the price of its 150 megabits-per-second service to $99.99 a month from $209.99, bringing it in line with pricing for its rivals' fastest speeds.
Verizon also said on Monday it will charge $209.99 a month for a new 300 megabits per second (mbps) service, or $204.99 for users with a two-year contract, starting today.
This compares with No. 1 rival Comcast's fastest service, which costs $200 a month for speeds of 105 mbps and rival Cablevision's speediest offering which is $104.95 for 101 mbps.
Arturo Picicci, Verizon's director of product management said consumers are craving more and more bandwidth as they connect more devices such as tablets and smartphones on top of traditional computers inside their homes.
As a result the company wanted to make its second-fastest speed more affordable.
"We're bringing 150 mbps more to the mainstream," Picicci told Reuters. "Cable cannot touch us here."
The telephone company competes with cable operators for television and telephone customers as well as Internet users with bundled offering all those services together.
The increasing popularity of services such as video streaming and video games will also help demand, the executive said. "We're expecting that 80 percent of customers will want more than 15 megabits per second," said Picicci referring to Verizon's slowest FiOS service speed.
According to Verizon, it would take 2.2 minutes to download a two-hour high-definition video file over a 300 mbps connection compared with a download time of 44.4 minutes for a 15 mbps service.
Verizon had 5 million FiOS Internet customers at the end of the first quarter and 4.4 million FiOS TV customers, making it the seventh-biggest U.S. pay TV service.