Bright House Joins Broadband Speed Wars
Bright House has become the latest major broadband provider to announce that it will significantly increase data transmission speeds to stave off similar moves by rivals.
Bright House Networks said Tuesday that it will boost its top download speeds to 150 Mbit/s next month for no extra charge to its customers. Currently, its maximum download speed is 90 Mbit/s under its three "Lightning" tiers of data service -- 30 Mbit/s, 60 Mbit/s and 90 Mbit/s.
Further, Bright House said it will then roll out download speeds as high as 300 Mbit/s throughout its Florida service areas "in early 2015." The MSO -- the sixth-largest in the US, with about 2.5 million customers spread across five states -- has a heavy focus in Florida, controlling the Tampa and Orlando markets in the central part of the state. It did not say which markets would get the speed upgrades first.
In addition, Bright House boasted that it is already offering speeds up to 1 Gbit/s in "limited areas in Florida, creating the state's first 'Gigabit Communities.' " Those communities consist of new private-home developments in its franchise areas, where it's using Ethernet over fiber to deliver the higher speeds. Bright House also noted that it now offers 40,000 free WiFi hotspots for broadband customers across its service areas.
The announcement by Bright House comes as cable operators continue to scramble to keep up with the 1-Gig rollouts of Google Fiber Inc. , AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) and others. In another move on that front today, Cox Communications Inc. announced that it will extend 1-Gig service to its franchise areas in Virginia, which include the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Cox -- the third-largest MSO in the US, with more than 4 million customers -- previously launched 1-Gig service in the Phoenix area and plans to blanket all of its regions with its "GigaBlast" service by the end of 2016. (See Cox Goes Gaga Over Gigabit.)
Meanwhile, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has reportedly filed for a trademark application for the brand name "True Gig." Although Comcast has not yet launched a 1-Gig residential broadband service, it does offer speeds as high as 505 Mbit/s in a growing number of markets, using its Metro Ethernet service over fiber lines. The nation's largest MSO is also gearing up for the debut of DOCSIS 3.1 technology, which will enable it and other cable operators to start offering download speeds as high as 10 Gbit/s as early as the second half of next year.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading