Add Windstream to the list of gigabit Internet service providers. Windstream CEO Tony Thomas announced their Gigabit plans at the recent J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media, and Telecom investor conference. Thomas committed to launching at least one gigabit market in 2015, but maybe up to five, and even more beyond that.
“We are drawing a line in the sand, saying we are going to launch a one gigabit market in 2015 and if the team really over achieves, we’ll launch five,” said Thomas. “I think after that, we’re going to launch in every one of our markets, a one gigabit product.”
Thomas clarified his comments to set the right expectations. They don’t intend to “blanket” these Windstream markets with gigabit. The deployments will be selective to the neighborhoods and sub-divisions where they have already laid fiber assets.
Windstream joins other tier 2 carriers including Frontier and TDS, who have also jumped on the gigabit Internet bandwagon. They too have been selective with their gigabit deployments.
Thomas cited gigabit and other high bandwidth products as necessary to compete with the cable industry on broadband. Windstream is also very active with bonded VDSL2 service to increase copper based broadband speeds.
“I think there’s a little bit of a misnomer here about telcos and their ability to provide these types of speeds,” said Thomas. “When you take a look at just leveraging the speeds today, VDSL2 bonding, which is a readily available technology, one gigabit capabilities, GPON deployments are readily available technology, because we’ve already done the hard work deploying fiber, I’m confident that the telcos are going to be very competitive with the cable companies from a product portfolio.”
The broadband wars are indeed on, and gigabit is the weapon of choice. It’s more of a public relations weapon for now, as very few subscribers are actually subscribing to the service. But it allows competitors to grab attention and appear to be on par with everyone else. And it does lay the groundwork for next generation broadband, helping to enable important community economic development goals.
It’s actually kind of amazing how fast the gigabit bragging rights game has accelerated. Comcast recently ‘one-upped’ everyone by announcing two gigabit service (although the details are few and far between) and there’s now talks of planning for 10 gigabit service.