It's pretty clear that not all consumers are convinced that they need a gigabit. It's also becoming increasingly clear that a lot of them might not even know what it means.
So says a recent study by Pivot Group , anyway, which found that a surprisingly low percentage of consumers have even heard of gigabit services, and only about half understand that a gigabit is more than a megabit. (See Consumers Are Gig Ignorant – Study.)
That's a little surprising to me, given all the gigabit hullabaloo of late, as well as the fact that so many providers of all sizes are appropriating the "giga" prefix in some fashion as part of their service branding -- from AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s GigaPower to Paul Bunyan Communications ' GigaZone, for example. (See Minnesota Gets Giant-Sized Gigabit Rollout)
If it's accurate, though, it means this industry has a lot of work to do -- and not just in teaching consumers about what a gigabit is. The companies deploying gigabit services must also educate both residential and business consumers about what gigabit networks can do for them -- what makes them worth the price they're charging -- and also participate in industry efforts to foster development of applications that will demonstrate the power of these networks. (See US Ignite Cultivates Gigabit Apps.)
Gigabit providers also need to be more forthcoming -- something one of the most high-profile of them is simply not. Google Fiber Inc. is notoriously mum on its plans, and has repeatedly declined Light Reading's requests for interviews with its leadership. When queried about an upcoming media event in Austin, a Google Fiber spokesperson said only local broadcast media will be granted interviews. It's exactly that kind of caginess that fuels speculation about whether Google Fiber's true mission is to be a network operator and competitive service provider, or simply to use its brand clout to spur other network operators into upgrading their networks to gigabit speeds more quickly.
We may be in the early stages of the Gigabit Cities era, but this is a critical juncture for service providers. How they communicate their strategies, how their networks perform and how they educate consumers about what they're providing, why they're providing it and what it's good for will make the difference between marketing flimflam and true transformation.
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading