midco_gigabitRegional cable MSO Midcontinent Communications (Midco) plans to bring gigabit service to the Northern Plains region, eventually covering approximately 600K homes and 55K businesses with ultra-broadband services. Midco’s Gigabit Frontier Initiative outlines plans to upgrade their network in hundreds of communities across South Dakota, North Dakota, and Minnesota, starting in 2015.

Midco joins a growing number of cable companies who are turning to Gigabit services as a way to keep the broadband speed crown that the cable industry has long held over the telco and competitive carrier market. The perception that cable offers the fastest broadband speeds might be slipping, as a slew of telco and municipal providers announce and launch gigabit initiatives, creating a lot of PR noise in the process. Midco now joins Cox, Atlantic Broadband, and Bright House among others, with announced gigabit plans.

Midcontinent Communications Gigabit
Midco’s best broadband tier currently tops out at 200 Mbps downstream. The regional cable provider intends to tap its 7,600 route-mile fiber network to deliver the increased gigabit speeds. According to W. Tom Simmons, Midco’s SVP of Public Policy, Midco intends to use both FTTP and upcoming DOCSIS 3.1 technologies for the gigabit upgrades.

“Those requiring symmetrical gigabit service (mostly businesses) will have an FTTH option.  The residential service will utilize DOCSIS 3.1 when it is available,” said Simmons in an email interview.


Midco will not employ the Google Fiber model, followed by other carriers, where gigabit markets/neighborhoods are not upgraded until sufficient demand is demonstrated – the so called ‘fiberhood’ approach.

“We will be upgrading all subscribers in the market and not cherry-pick certain areas of the community,” said Simmons.

That’s an ambitious plan, considering Midco counts 600K subscribers across their network. The gigabit plan “applies to our entire network,” Simmons reiterated.

Fargo, ND will be first up with Gigabit, starting in the spring of 2015, with Bismarck and Grand Forks, ND; and Sioux Falls and Rapid City, SD next in line after that.

The cable industry recently wrapped their gigabit plans around the industry’s so called Gigasphere initiative, which features upcoming gigabit enabled DOCSIS 3.1 technology. In a potential sign of things to come, Comcast recently trademarked the term True Gig.

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