Gigabit Networks Becoming Commonplace in Metropolitan Areas

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    The number of gigabit networks that have been announced in recent months is startling. A very comprehensive look at the landscape is available in the third annual report from Gig.U.

    Stacey Higginbotham at Gigaom posts a particularly interesting graphic illustrating that a great majority of cities that have gigabit networks at all have more than one provider. For instance, Austin, Kansas City, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Nashville, Atlanta, San Antonio and San Jose are getting or will get service from both AT&T and Google. Phoenix is particularly lucky: Cox, CenturyLink and Google have signed on to serve the city.

    Higginbotham also concludes that municipalities that work with providers are more likely to get fast networks than those that stand in the way.

    Heightened competition clearly is here. CenturyLink, in particular, is making a move, according to PCWorld. Earlier this month, the company said that it will bring symmetrical gigabit broadband to homes and businesses in Columbia and Jefferson City, Mo.; Denver; Las Vegas; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Omaha; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City and Seattle. Business-only services will be available in Albuquerque; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Phoenix, Sioux Falls, Spokane and Tucson.

    The symmetrical nature of the promised networks is particularly important. The cable industry’s primary challenge is sending data from homes and businesses upstream toward the core of the network. A service offering that can perform with equal capability in both directions has a significant competitive advantage.

    CNNMoney does a nice job of tracking the growth and getting to which companies deserve the credit. Right now, the site says, 27 cities offer gigabit speeds, which is 25 more than a year ago. The drivers, as is suggested in the Gig.U chart, are AT&T, Google and CenturyLink.

    The story makes the important point that the proliferation of these networks will drive content providers. Today, content companies aren’t capable of pushing out movies, music and the like quickly enough to make take advantage of the higher speeds. That will change, however, as the networks become common. It’s something of a vicious cycle in which one entity pushes the other.

    Kate Cox writes at Consumerist that some of the gigabit projects cited in the story haven’t actually been built yet, and others are operational—but not at 1Gbps. Perhaps more importantly, Cox writes, the CNN story doesn’t mention the municipal projects that are serving up high-speed data to residents.

    The bottom line is that gigabit networks are becoming more common. That’s great news for the service providers and, most of all, subscribers.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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