Fiber OpticsYet another small town gigabit announcement comes today from Western Iowa Networks. The company said it will launch service beginning July 15 in the Iowa towns of Breda, Carroll, Lidderdale and Westside. These are all small towns and, perhaps more importantly, WIN plans to bring gigabit service not only within the city limits but also in surrounding rural areas.

WIN is the fourth company in the last two days to announce a gigabit deployment in a smaller market. The other news came from Bolt Fiber Optic Services, TDS Telecom and Comporium, indicating a potential uptick in momentum for rural gigabit projects.

Western Iowa Networks Rural Gigabit Deployment
WIN is the competitive local exchange carrier unit of incumbent rural telco Breda Telephone. And the company already had fiber-to-the-home infrastructure in the four communities that are getting gigabit service. WIN previously deployed FTTH in Carroll funded, in part, through a Rural Utilities Service loan. And more recently Breda Telephone won a broadband stimulus award to bring FTTH to Breda and Lidderdale.

Once a company has FTTH infrastructure, upgrading to gigabit service may be a relatively simple endeavor. WIN Director of Marketing & Business Development Megan Badding described WIN’s upgrade in an email to Telecompetitor. “We will have to change the profile on the customer equipment,” she said. In addition she said the company is increasing the speed of its connection to its Internet point of presence.

WIN made the decision to undertake the upgrade, in part, because the company’s upstream service provider decreased its transport cost, Badding noted.

WIN didn’t have to increase the capacity between the central office and the optical line terminal, which is typically located in a neighborhood cabinet. That’s a step some other FTTH providers might need to make to deliver gigabit service but upgrading the speed of a fiber connection is a relatively simple operation.

The upshot is that it wouldn’t be surprising to see a flurry of gigabit upgrades in rural areas, as many small rural telcos already have deployed FTTH equipment capable of supporting such an upgrade.

Service providers undertaking gigabit network upgrades in smaller towns cite the importance of modern broadband infrastructure to local economies – and WIN is no exception. In today’s announcement, WIN CEO Chuck Deisbeck said “We are launching our gigabit services so businesses can grow, schools can develop one-on-one initiatives, telemedicine can be offered in rural communities and communities can enhance their economic development. With these faster Internet speeds, people in our rural communities will be able to live the lifestyle they want to enjoy without having to sacrifice access to services that have previously only been offered in urban areas.”

The fastest broadband speed that WIN previously offered was 100 Mbps. With the upgrade the company will be adding 250 Mbps and 500 Mbps tiers, as well as gigabit service.

Pricing will range from $60 to $150 for residential customers for the 250 – 500 Mbps services, while business customers will pay between $255 and $755, Badding said. Gigabit service will cost $250-$260 for residential customers and $955 for businesses.