It turns out that fiber brings in the big bucks. Plus, CenturyLink expands gigabit service to new cities, GCI launches gigabit broadband in Alaska and more, all in this week's edition of Gigabites.
Municipal broadband has its critics, and one of the major arguments against letting city governments develop their own broadband services is that local citizens get stuck with the bill. However, in the case of municipally-owned EPB Fiber Optics in Chattanooga, gigabit broadband has turned out to be a financial boon.
According to an independent study commissioned by EPB, the company's fiber network has created between $865.3 million and $1.3 billion in city benefits. That's compared to the $220 million EPB spent to deploy the network in the first place. The study also suggests the new infrastructure has generated at least 2,800 jobs by attracting news businesses to the area.
There is a slight catch, however. Some of the ROI for EPB comes from cutting down on power outages thanks to the use of the gigabit network in the region's smart grid. That works when a city owns its own electric utility… but many don't. (See EPB: 10Gbit/s Service Feasible Within a Year.)
CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) is making progress with its gigabit deployments. With plans to reach more than 700,000 households by the end of the year, the company announced this week that gigabit service is now live in parts of six new states including Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina and South Dakota. Some, but not all of the cities CenturyLink services are also getting the telco's new Prism TV service. As of the end of June, CenturyLink had 258,000 paying subscribers for the IPTV offering. (See Gigabites: CenturyLink Expands Gig-Powered IPTV.)
Alaska is getting a gig. General Communication Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) has announced that it's launching the state's first gigabit broadband service called 1 GIG red. Available in parts of Anchorage today, the company has committed to spreading gigabit service throughout the entire city by the end of the year. Other GCI regions will get an upgrade to speeds of 500 Mbits/s in the near term, while the company says it will expand 1 GIG red to other communities in the state starting in 2016.
Google Fiber Inc. 's gigabit service is popular with consumers, but not everyone is happy with how the company has made that service possible. Cox Communications Inc. has reportedly filed two lawsuits against the city of Tempe, Arizona, arguing that the city provided unfair advantage to Google by not imposing the same obligations on it that the city has laid on other local video providers. According to Cox, the city has exempted Google from certain rules by declaring that it's not a cable company, but "Google Fiber's proposed video offering is indistinguishable from Cox's service offering."