Light Reading
The increasing pace of gigabit network rollouts by providers of all stripes is putting more pressure on competitors to respond.

The Power of the Gig

Jason Meyers
7/30/2014
50%
50%

When I answered an incoming customer service call from Comcast yesterday, all I really hoped was that my experience would be better than this guy's. (See What Can We Learn From Comcast's Customer Service Nightmare?)

Turns out it was. For one, my call was from an automated and far less argumentative voice. Also, I wasn't planning to cancel my service (not yet, anyway). And finally, the automaton told me that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) was doubling my internet speed for no additional charge, effective immediately.

I haven't binge-watched House of Cards since I got that call, so I have yet to know if Comcast's action will improve my often frustrating Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) experience. But I know this: I feel a little better about Comcast.

Is it a sign of the times, this unsolicited gesture to satisfy customers and stave off churn? It would seem so -- and it's likely a development driven by ever-increasing competitive pressure, especially from the myriad providers now beginning to offer gigabit services.


Get the latest updates on what will be the next Gigabit Cities by visiting Light Reading's Broadband/FTTx content channel.


These providers run the gamut: There's AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), which has recently added San Antonio, Nashville, Dallas/Fort Worth, and three North Carolina communities (Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Raleigh-Durham) to the list of cities that will join Austin in getting its GigaPower service. There's Google Fiber Inc. , which is signing up customers in Kansas City and Provo, Utah, and has Austin and nine more cities on deck, many of which overlap AT&T's GigaPower map.

But then there are the smaller providers -- according to the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council , 55 in all in the US, including telcos, municipalities, utilities, and even real estate interests. These are the entities bringing gigabit services to smaller cities and towns, stepping up the competitive pressure on the Comcasts, AT&Ts and Google Fibers of the world, whether those larger players are willing to admit it or not -- and adding to the regulatory ruckus while they're at it. (See If Not Muni Networks, Then What?, Muni Utilities Take Gigabit Fight to FCC, and The Municipal Menace?).

Competitive pressure can do wonders for service innovation. (There's even a startup in my tiny hamlet that's plotting a gigabit network build, which might account for the Comcast call.) Competitive pressure also ups the level of debate, raising important issues like states' rights, the role of the FCC and federal government, proper municipal use of taxpayer funds, even the question of how necessary gigabit speeds are -- especially for residential customers -- at this point in time. And in regions that might never get the attention of Google Fiber or GigaPower from AT&T, gigabit initiatives are aiding economic development efforts and potentially contributing to community transformation. (See Comporium Aims Gig at Businesses, Residents.)

All of it is certain to continue apace, keeping things very interesting -- and, if nothing else, improving the binge-watching experience for us all.

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading

(8)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
atiller
100%
0%
atiller,
User Rank: Lightning
8/1/2014 | 7:47:04 AM
not just about csp churn..

Yes competition is sometimes the mother of innovation, and also of improved customer care.  But maybe it shouldn't just be about reducing churn - maybe there's some rev-gen that can come that way as well.  

Maybe next-time your operator detects you are trying to binge watch House of Cards, it could offer you a service speed upgrade for the next 3 (4, 5, 24?) hours to improve your viewing.  You might happily pay a couple of dollars for that uplift.  Or Netflix might want to pay some or all of that for you - in order to stop you switching to Amazon LoveFilm (and that would be improving customer service to stop churn by an OTT player).

But then we have strayed from improving customer service into the whole net-neutrality debate and kicked off another thread entirely.  Some of these innovations can get pretty interconnected.

pcharles09
50%
50%
pcharles09,
User Rank: Light Beer
7/31/2014 | 9:42:00 AM
Re: The Need for Speed
@FakeMitchWagner,

Unfortunately in my location in NYC, we're locked into only 1 high speed provider. Somehow, our building management only allows TWC.
SachinEE
100%
0%
SachinEE,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/31/2014 | 6:20:00 AM
Competitive pressure
Clearly the increase in competitive pressure is the only reason why Comcast is doubling your internet speed. There are many rival carriers who are also offering some sort of discounts so that's the only way to stay afloat and avoid losing their clientele to other carriers. I wouldn't mind if they threw that offer my way but as it is, they have no choice. It's actually a step into the right direction because now they can keep up with the other carriers.
Michelle
50%
50%
Michelle,
User Rank: Moderator
7/30/2014 | 10:38:47 PM
Re: The Need for Speed
I would take the additional speed for almost the same price I'm paying now! I don't need a gig and would be very happy if we were getting 70 mbit/s. We're bandwidth poor. Enjoy your doubled bandwidth!
jabailo
50%
50%
jabailo,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/30/2014 | 9:44:43 PM
Re: The Need for Speed
I believe each Netflix HD movie stream only requires about 2Mpbs for playback.

The problem with streaming has often been with the Netflix servers themselves or the ISP, though they've been addressing both those issues with more hardware and by paying for bandwidth.

With those being optimal, you should easily be able to fit 5 concurrent movie streams, however, you probably would need a very good Wifi hub to manage all the traffic.




 
Mitch Wagner
50%
50%
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
7/30/2014 | 6:34:37 PM
Re: The Need for Speed
I almost certainly don't need a gig. But I can always use a little more than I have now. And I expect that will be true if I get a little more -- I'll want a little more than that. Pretty soon I'd have a gig and still be hankering for more. 


I wonder whether carriers really face competition through much of the US. 55 communities sounds like a lot, but the US is an awfully big place, and it's my impression that the overwhelming majority of the population has a choice of at most two high-speed providers. 
brooks7
50%
50%
brooks7,
User Rank: Lightning
7/30/2014 | 5:26:37 PM
Re: The Need for Speed
Jason,

Not sure I would take it as I would then have to up my home router.  I don't use any of the router capabilities of my Cable Modem as I want to control that exclusively.

Other than that - sure.....

 

seven
jasonmeyers
50%
50%
jasonmeyers,
User Rank: Blogger
7/30/2014 | 4:46:19 PM
The Need for Speed
Netflix streaming really is the most bandwidth-intensive application going in my household, with various devices like Kindles and iPhones in the hands of small people (streaming purely educational content, I'm told) running a close second. A quick Ookla speedtest tells me I'm currently getting about 70 Mbit/s download speeds if I sit near the Comcast box, and just a little shy of that if I sit one room away. 

The point of all this is to say that I probably don't really need a gig -- but if it were available to me for a price in the ballpark of what I'm paying now, I would take it. Would you?
More Blogs from The Utilitarian
The proliferation of gigabit networks has implications that extend far beyond high-speed home networks.
The continuing rollout of gigabit networks across the country stands in stark contrast to the average Internet access speeds in US states.
New federal legislation raises questions about states' rights and the role of municipalities and utilities in broadband competition.
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Photos: Qualcomm Takes Over San Francisco
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/19/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
New NFV Forum Focused on Interoperability
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 9/16/2014
Connecticut Cities Crowdsource Gigabit Nets
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, 9/15/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed