broadbandThe gigabit network trend accelerated substantially in 2014. I took a look back at Telecompetitor’s coverage (see list below) and was astonished how many new players this year entered the market or announced plans to do so. In addition, several carriers that announced gigabit plans in previous years – including AT&TC Spire and Google — announced plans for new markets this year.

Traditional cable company broadband infrastructure based on hybrid fiber coax (HFC) supports higher bandwidth services than traditional telco broadband infrastructure based on digital subscriber line (DSL). So not surprisingly, cablecos have been less aggressive on the gigabit front. As of a year ago, only a few small companies on the cable side had announced gigabit plans. But in 2014, we saw Cox Communications, one of the nation’s largest cablecos – announce an ambitious gigabit strategy. And Time Warner Cable could launch gigabit service in Los Angeles,  depending on the results of a municipal RFP. And several smaller cable companies — including Bright House, Grande Communications, Midcontinent and others –also said they would join the gigabit movement.

On the telco side, several Tier 1 and Tier 2 carriers – including CenturyLink, Frontier, TDS Telecom and Cincinnati Bell – joined in. Utility companies also were represented, with companies like Co-Mo Comm, Habersham EMC, and others announcing gigabit plans. And a few competitive carriers – including RST, Paxio and Ting – also are pursuing the gigabit opportunity, as is a private/public partnership in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

But the service provider group with the biggest number of players announcing gigabit plans in 2014 was the Tier 3 group. Telecompetitor covered 11 Tier 3 gigabit announcements in 2014 – and there may have been more. While this might initially seem surprising, it’s actually very logical. Many smaller telcos already have deployed fiber-to-the-home and once that investment has been made, it’s relatively easy to upgrade to gigabit service.

One broadband equipment vendor told us it is expecting a lot more activity on this front moving forward. We look forward to sharing these developments with you as they unfold in the new year.

2014’s Gigabit Network Boom
Until then, here in chronological order is a recap of 2014’s gigabit announcements from entities that had not previously announced such plans: