North Dakota fiber provider MLGC, based in Enderlin, North Dakota is introducing a 5 Gbps broadband tier to several rural markets in the state. The 100+ year old provider operates an all-FTTP network to several communities across east-central North Dakota.
In a press release, MLGC president and general manager Tyler Kilde cites bandwidth demands from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has more people working and learning from home, as one reason for the move. Continuing adoption of smart home devices was another.
“Technology is constantly changing, and our consumption of data continues to increase exponentially,” Kilde said in a press release. “So with this project, we will be set for the future.”
MLGC serves approximately 2,600 customers across 7 exchanges. The North Dakota carrier already offers a few gigabit tiers, including a 2.5 Gbps service in some markets. MLGC also has some cable broadband facilities delivering broadband over DOCSIS.
For the 5 Gbps service, MLGC is utilizing XGS-PON equipment from Calix. The ultimate goal is to get to 10 Gbps service, Kilde noted in an emailed statement to Telecompetitor.
The 5 Gbps service is immediately available in several MLCG communities, including a bedroom community of Fargo, ND.
The move to 5 Gbps is an interesting one. There’s considerable debate around the need for multi-gigabit service to consumers. But gigabit service penetration is growing.
A recent report from OpenVault pegged gigabit penetration at roughly 5.6%. Not a huge number, but growing at 124%, more than doubling from a year ago.
“Is there a demand for services above 1Gb? I’m sure this can be debated. However, with the increase of devices capable of handling bandwidths above 1Gb, it’s just a matter of time,” Kilde tells Telecompetitor.
Picking 5 Gbps as the next tier is also interesting because I have to think all of the hype and growing awareness around 5G may have influenced that decision.
It’s not surprising to see a North Dakota company make news about gigabit. The state is one of the most, if not the most (per capita) FTTP wired state in the country.
This post has been updated to include details provided by MLGC.