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: Light Sabre
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 Gigabot
Google Fiber delays the planned deployment of its gigabit network in its next nine metro targets, as other gigabit hopefuls step up.
Providers of gigabit services must commit to consumer education for the Gigabit Cities era to really flourish.
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.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive