Competitive provider Metronet has turned up multi-gigabit service in multiple Iowa markets. Symmetrical speeds up to 2 Gbps will be available to residential customers in the markets and symmetrical speeds up to 10 Gbps will be available to business customers.

A Metronet press release references Ankeny, Clive, Grimes, Hampton, Iowa City, Jewell, Johnston, Mason City, Sheffield, and Urbandale as being “among the first in the state” to have access to service at these speeds. The release also references XGS-PON as the technology underlying the multi-gigabit offerings.

“With access to multi-gigabit speeds, these cities will have the opportunity to stream, work and game online faster and better than before, improving their quality of internet service and life online,” said Metronet CEO John Cinelli in the release.

Metronet plans to offer multi-gigabit service in other communities in its 16-state service area in “the coming months,” the company said.

Metronet, which got its start in 2005, serves more than 250 markets. In many of these markets, the company offers gigabit service. Recently, the company has begun to upgrade some of these markets to support symmetrical speeds up to 10 Gbps for businesses and up to 2 Gbps for residences.

Symmetrical speeds have become increasingly important as more customers use videoconferencing and gaming applications that require substantial upstream bandwidth. Fiber network operators see symmetrical speeds as a competitive advantage against cable companies that can provide multi-gigabit speeds downstream but may only support upstream speeds in the range of 20 Mbps.

If a provider already has deployed GPON, the upgrade to XGS-PON is relatively easy. And as the cost of the two technologies comes closer together, operators increasingly are choosing XGS-PON for all new builds.

Another alternative for providing multi-gigabit speeds for fiber network operators is NG-PON2, but although that technology provides certain advantages over XGS-PON it is considerably more costly and only a few providers, notably Verizon, are making the NG-PON2 choice.

The cable industry, meanwhile, is working on a range of technologies under the umbrella term “10G” with the goal of supporting multi-gigabit speeds.

Among Metronet’s other Iowa markets are Waterloo, Sioux City, and Des Moines.

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