When it comes to gigabit broadband, CenturyLink means business -- and that's setting it apart from many others.
Despite the fact that one of the central claims about gigabit-scale networks in cities is that they will attract businesses and drive economic development, many of the early gigabit broadband deployments are focused primarily on residential consumers. CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), however, is signaling that its gigabit efforts will have a business spin.
"We see a tremendous range of services we can offer over the cloud, and bundling cloud services with our gigabit capabilities is a very compelling offer for SMBs and smaller sites of larger businesses," says Shirish Lal, chief marketing officer at CenturyLink.
The carrier announced in August that it would begin delivering gigabit services over its network in parts of 16 cities. In 10 of them -- Columbia, Mo.; Denver; Jefferson City, Mo.; Las Vegas; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Omaha; Orlando; Portland; Salt Lake City; and Seattle -- the carrier is serving both residents and businesses.
In six other markets -- Albuquerque, N.M.; Colorado Springs; Phoenix; Sioux Falls, S.D.; Spokane, Wash.; and Tuscon, Ariz. -- the operator will aim its 1Gbit/s services solely at businesses.
CenturyLink is in the early stages of deployment in all of those markets and has yet to fully define its marketing strategy, but the focus on business usage likely will differentiate its efforts from competitors -- including the disruptive Google Fiber Inc. -- that are mostly positioning ultra-high-speed connectivity as a residential benefit. Lal points to virtualized network functions as one example of how a gigabit connection might benefit business customers and CenturyLink.
"We're moving toward delivering network functions on a virtualized basis rather than traditional network appliances," he says. "The gigabit connection creates a very different scenario in terms of the capabilities you can deliver."
Despite its current business-centric focus, however, CenturyLink isn't overlooking residential consumers and consumer-oriented applications in its gigabit initiative.
"In the residential market thus far there's definitely an appeal to the fiber-to-the-home capability and the potential of gigabit," Lal says. "We've seen people respond with a high degree of interest in having fiber to their homes and having upgradability to a gigabit.
Everything from cloud-based storage to gaming to 4k video is creating appeal on the residential consumer side, he says.
"Obviously video demand is growing, and with our security offerings we've seen customers adding cameras that are essentially live streaming to mobile devices," he says. "It's the ultimate capability in terms of network and the speed you get."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading