Gigabit Cities

Austin Apartments Get Grande's Gig

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."

For the latest on urban network innovation, visit Light Reading's dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel. And be sure to register to attend Light Reading's Gigabit Cities Live event on May 13-14 in Atlanta.

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

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Lv99_Slacker 2/12/2015 | 12:39:35 PM
Come on, Grande. Be proactive. Stop waiting for Google to make a move before making one. I'm just right outside their coverage area on Willow Creek Dr. (78741). Bluffs At Town Lake. Let's go.
kq4ym 2/9/2015 | 10:03:27 AM
Re: A/C, BLC, D/W, PKG... GIG A real game of chess it is, trying to outsmart or outmove the competition. At $65 a month, it seems like that's a great price for those tech savy folks in the luxury apartments. But, how to get that gig convenience to the majority of middle class and below at reasonable cost may be the real challenge and where the big market really is.
danielcawrey 2/8/2015 | 12:35:47 PM
Re: A/C, BLC, D/W, PKG... GIG That's great there are so many companies in Austin that are providing gigabit internet. I wish that more communities would be more competitive in this respect, but I think it requires a large, youthful and tech savvy community in order that that to work. 
Joe Stanganelli 2/7/2015 | 12:58:08 AM
Re: An idea long overdue @jasonmeyers: Good to hear its not an exclusive deal.  I have relatives in a gated community who are dealing with the perpetually self-dealing board's decision to ban the area's major cable provider and all others in favor of a local place that offers fewer channels, less service, and worse service -- at the same price...because somebody knows somebody who knows somebody.

I gave them the same advice I've been telling them for years ever since the board instituted a water usage limit for lawn watering -- except for the board members themselves: hire a lawyer.
jasonmeyers 2/6/2015 | 11:55:54 AM
Re: An idea long overdue Joe - I agree, and if I were a real estate developer... well, I'd probably have more money, and I'd go after arrangements like this to leverage as amenities for my properties.

Also, Rohre told me it's not an exclusive deal -- residents can choose whatever provider they want. 

Joe Stanganelli 2/6/2015 | 1:54:32 AM
An idea long overdue I'm really surprised this isn't more common -- especially in luxury community-heavy areas like southern Florida.

OTOH, residents may want choice -- and similar contracts may not allow for that.
DHagar 2/5/2015 | 9:05:10 PM
Re: A/C, BLC, D/W, Pkg...GIG KBode,

I agree - it does sound like the Gigabit cities are becoming the "quality of life" cities - progressive, etc.  You and Jason, with Austin and Chatanooga, are indicative of the progressives that want to be "connected".  Makes sense - that's why these cities are winning.  Grande is smart!
jasonmeyers 2/5/2015 | 8:20:20 PM
Re: A/C, BLC, D/W, PKG... GIG Karl, I agree. After a recent visit to Chattanooga, I was ready to move there for similar reasons. Great town. 
jasonmeyers 2/5/2015 | 8:18:29 PM
Re: A/C, BLC, D/W, PKG... GIG Seven - you're pretty down on most of these announcements, it seems. How come? Don't believe 1 Gig connectivity is going to be as widespread as predicted? 
brooks7 2/5/2015 | 6:10:42 PM
Re: A/C, BLC, D/W, PKG... GIG Only if you live in the one apartment complex....


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