Grande Communications is attempting to leverage its gigabit pole position in Austin by targeting new luxury apartment communities and working with developers to position gigabit-speed broadband service as an amenity.
Grande Communications has linked with The Marquis at Barton Trails, a 157-unit development that's currently under construction in the Sunset Valley neighborhood of Austin, to make Grande's 1G service available to all tenants. The deal is Grande's first for an entire multi-dwelling unit (MDU).
Grande had first-mover advantage in Austin, but the Texas tech town has quickly become the epicenter of the Gigabit Cities movement, attracting the attention of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s GigaPower rollout, Google Fiber Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC). The city is a great example of how varied the gigabit opportunity -- and the gigabit provider race -- is likely to be in large, populous and tech-friendly cities, and Grande's push to position gigabit service as an amenity for apartment dwellers is one way those providers can potentially differentiate themselves. (See Tales of the Gigabit City, 2014 Edition and Grande Unfazed in Crowded Gigabit Market.)
"Having access to these types of services makes their property more attractive," says Grande's Matt Rohre, senior vice president of operations and general manager. "And from our perspective, it's a natural progression of the proliferation in Internet speeds."
Grande's full symmetrical gig is $64.99 a month, and CWS Capital Partners, which owns The Marquis at Barton Trails, says it's already a draw for potential renters.
"In a city like Austin, and with us being so close to downtown and having a lot of tech companies close by, we know we're going to service tech-savvy customers," says Christine Donegan, development operations director at CWS Capital Partners. "The Austin market is very competitive right now. Offering this Internet speed as an amenity is something that can distinguish us."
Competition is what keeps Grande up at night as well, though Rohre says at this early point there is still not a lot of overlap in the network coverage of the city's competing gigabit providers. Grande knows that's on the way, however, and is prepping for it.
"We're playing a game of chess right now with everyone," he says.
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading