& cplSiteName &

The Power of the Gig

Jason Meyers

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        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Blogger
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.

User Rank: Light Beer
7/31/2014 | 9:42:00 AM
Re: The Need for Speed

Unfortunately in my location in NYC, we're locked into only 1 high speed provider. Somehow, our building management only allows TWC.
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.
User Rank: Light Sabre
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!
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
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. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/30/2014 | 5:26:37 PM
Re: The Need for Speed

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.....


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 Gigabot
A private community in Florida takes broadband matters into its own hands and builds out a gigabit-speed network.
Light Reading will bring the Gigabit Cities community together in Atlanta May 13 and 14.
President Obama's stance on municipal broadband is politically polarizing – but could there be an upside for commercial service providers?
Communications service providers of all types need to figure out what role they will play in the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
Google Fiber delays the planned deployment of its gigabit network in its next nine metro targets, as other gigabit hopefuls step up.
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
Wednesday, October 26, 1:00PM EDT
Security: Tackling DDoS
Gary Sockrider, Principal Security Technologist, Arbor Networks
Friday, October 28, 1:00PM EDT
Security: The Plusses and Minuses of Open Source Software
Nick Feamster, Acting Director, Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
Wednesday, November 16, 1:00PM EST
SDN 101
John Isch, Practice Director, Network & Voice, Orange Business Services
Friday, November 18, 1:00PM EST
SDN & Open Source
Christopher W. Rice, Senior Vice President of AT&T Labs, Domain 2.0 Architecture and Design
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation Technology Beyond DOCSIS 3.1

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Liu Jianhua speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Hybrid Video Solutions to Change TV, Change Future

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Ian Locke speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Future-Oriented Giga Coax Network

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

At SCTE 2016, Huawei's Allen Wang speaks with Alan Breznick for an exclusive interview.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei at SCTE 2016

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Alan Breznick of Light Reading and take a sneak peek at the Huawei booth at SCTE 2016.
LRTV Custom TV
Assuring Network Quality in a Rapidly Changing Environment

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

As the rate of change and complexity increases in agile networks, the importance of introducing DevOps methodologies for integrating active test and assurance solutions throughout the full service lifecycle becomes critical to ensure that customers are experiencing the service quality they demand. The industry landscape is changing, and software-based test and ...
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
A10 Networks on Service Providers' Industry Needs

10|20|16   |     |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders hears how A10 enables service providers to accelerate, secure and optimize their application delivery to drive down costs, enhance service availability, and better respond to customer requirements, so they can improve customer satisfaction, monetize their network, and grow revenues.
LRTV Custom TV
New NFV Use Cases for Cable TV

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

A large number of NFV use cases are focused on the enterprise domain, looking at virtualization of customer-premises equipment (CPE). To date, there has been little focus on the use cases and business case for virtualization of the video content delivery networks required to deliver unicast and streaming video to consumers. Amdocs commissioned Analysys Mason to ...
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Meet the Future Workforce: New Faces, Expectations & Motivations

10|19|16   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

Millennials and their younger peers, Gen Z, expect more out of their network and more out of their work. Intel's Lynn Comp shares how the industry can prepare for this new generation of workers.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Global Services User Congress 2016 Highlights

10|19|16   |     |   (0) comments

ZTE held its 2nd Global Service User Conference in Dusseldorf on October 13-14. Representatives from network operators, leading industry analysts and ZTE senior expertsattended the event, exploring the best practice in managed services and the vision to transform network operations into the operations center of the future (OpCF) in the software-defined networking ...
LRTV Custom TV
Cliff Grossner on Cloud & Network Synergy From Carrier Service

10|18|16   |     |   (0) comments

Local carriers offer the collaborated cloud and network service that benefits from their understanding of the regulations operating in different vertical markets.
In this interview, Cliff Grossner from IHS Technology talks about how this advanced service can support business agility and flexibility.
LRTV Custom TV
VeEX: Live from SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Cyrille Morelle, VeEX's President and CEO, talks with Light Reading's Alan Breznick live from the SCTE Cable-Tec Expo 2016. They discuss DOCSIS 3.1 technology, deployments and early lessons learned. New products on display include the CX350s-D3.1, CX380s-D3.1, CX310, AT2500-3G, FX150 OTDR and MTT WiFI Air Expert.
LRTV Custom TV
Smith Micro's Carrier-Grade WiFi Component

10|17|16   |     |   (0) comments

Join Carol Wilson of Light Reading as she interviews the CTO of Smith Micro, Dave Sperling.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Attacks Have Major Internet Sites on the Ropes
Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading, 10/21/2016
Verizon Wants More Data on Yahoo Breach
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 10/20/2016
WiCipedia: Grace Hopper Promotes Diversity, Girl Scouts Code & How to Thrive
Eryn Leavens, Special Features & Copy Editor, 10/21/2016
Layer3 TV Comes to Town, Hints at Future
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/21/2016
Telecom Italia Plots Digital 'Overlay,' Not Transformation
Iain Morris, News Editor, 10/17/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
There's no question that, come 2020, 5G technology will turn the world's conception of what mobile networking is on its head. Within the world of 5G development, Dr. ...
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.