Frontier's Gig Beats Google to Oregon
Frontier Communications is making good on its promise to beat Google Fiber in the gigabit time-to-market game, introducing gigabit-level services on its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network in Beaverton, Ore., just after its recent gigabit launch in Durham, N.C. (See Frontier Launches 1-Gig Speeds to Oregon.)
Maggie Wilderotter, CEO of Frontier Communications Corp. (NYSE: FTR), has publicly voiced the need to beat back what she considers to be gigabit hype and market speculation by Google Fiber Inc. with a commitment to real gigabit network deployments. (See Google Fiber Shifts Into High Gear).
Frontier joins CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) as a gigabit provider in the region. CenturyLink is the incumbent LEC in the urban core of Portland, while Frontier serves the once-rural and now suburban surrounding areas, where it competes directly with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK). Google has announced its intention to build out a network in the Portland region.
All that -- coupled with the fact that Beaverton is home to the headquarters of Nike, several Intel facilities and other tech businesses -- makes the region ripe for gigabit acceptance, says Trent Anderson, VP and GM of Oregon for Frontier.
"We want to make sure all our customers have what they desire, and in listening to them, it became evident that we needed a plan to get to this magical gig before Google," Anderson says. "This is a two-pronged competitive assault -- take market share from the incumbent MSO, and beat Google."
What Frontier determined was that the Beaverton market wants gigabit-level connectivity without requiring contracts, installation fees or service bundles. The carrier is offering Beaverton customers 500Mbit/s downstream/50Mbit/s upstream data connections for $169.99 per month, and 1Gbit/s downstream/100Mbit/s upstream for $219.99 per month. Prices for both packages are guaranteed for three years, and Frontier offers $5-per-month discounts for customers who register to make payments automatically.
Frontier's packages are aimed at high-bandwidth-consuming users who may work from home, engage in applications such as interactive gaming and have multiple connected devices in a household, Anderson says. The company's goal in not requiring service bundles or contracts is to give customers more choice for options such as over-the-top (OTT) services, for example.
"We're forecasting out of the gate that a lot of folks who take this will want this by itself," he says, noting that someone like an Intel engineer, for example, probably doesn’t need landline phone service and might not even opt to subscribe to video service. "This is standalone. The user wants to be in control."
Frontier's unique pricing and packaging in the Beaverton market points to a unifying characteristic of Gigabit Cities: the fact that none of them are alike. Anderson says while he and his Oregon team take advice from and work with product management across the company, he is "the throat to choke" in Oregon because he knows the unique characteristics of his market and what it will bear.
As for how consumers could leverage the speed of its gigabit networks, Anderson points to everything from telemedicine applications to enhanced gaming experiences incorporating streaming video of players and spectators as possibilities.
"Not only does that require low latency for the gaming experience, now I also have full-stream video of myself and others, as well as this game," he says. "Those types of applications are just going to proliferate."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading