Light Reading
A telco co-op in Texas readies a gigabit network in its region north of San Antonio to prep customers for all service eventualities.

GVTC Eyes a Gigabit Future

Jason Meyers
8/4/2014
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GVTC Communications is reaping the benefits of a decision it made more than a decade ago to focus not just on service adaptation and innovation, but also on arming itself to provide its customers with whatever the future would demand.

As a result of that decision, GVTC is about to turn up a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network that will allow it to provide gigabit services to about 43,000 potential customers in the carrier's region north of San Antonio, which is a market both AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Google Fiber Inc. are targeting for gigabit network deployment.

"We started this more than 10 years ago, and we were betting on broadband for the long term," says Ritchie Sorrells, president and CEO of GVTC. "The whole question about long-term viability is what motivated us. More and more of everything I see validates that strategy. We're looking pretty smart."

What GVTC -- which started out as a traditional telephone co-operative providing local phone service -- did was upgrade an aging and increasingly obsolete copper infrastructure to an all-fiber network that would be able to support FTTH deployment. Having done so now means the company can now offer gigabit connectivity that will accommodate the ongoing evolution of services, in a service area GVTC refers to as its GigaRegion.

"We knew that long term, the landline telephone was under serious threat," Sorrells says. "Our solution was a network that supported triple play in the immediate term, and in the long term broadband. Everything is migrating to higher and higher broadband requirements."


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Even in advance of GVTC's gigabit service deployment, which is slated for September, Sorrells says the company has seen exponential growth in what to this point has been the uppermost tier of its broadband service, 80 Mbit/s. "What does that say?" he says. "That says there's definitely a demand for higher tiers."

GVTC's approach to the gigabit game is an increasingly common one for smaller providers seeking to remain viable in an environment of intensifying competition and rapidly changing service availability and demands -- and it's a strategy based as much on community focus as it is on business drivers. (See The Power of the Gig.)

"They're very focused on ensuring their community keeps pace with the rest of the world," says Bernie Arnason, who as managing partner for Pivot Media tracks and analyzes smaller service providers. "It's very important to them that they see themselves as part of that community. It's more than just a business. It's about keeping their community up to speed -- both literally and figuratively."

As for what's next, Sorrells says GVTC will continue to invest in its network and adapt to the evolving needs of both residential and business customers to ensure its long-term viability and its position in the community it serves.

"The longer you're viable -- the longer you have a differentiator that puts you in a position to create value and compete -- the longer you get to sit at the table and offer value, and the more opportunities you get," he says. "It never really ends."

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

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