The race to make the US a Gigabit Nation gets more competitive by the minute. Seemingly every week, another communications service provider, utility or municipality announces a new initiative to bring gigabit-speed broadband to residents and businesses in another city, town or village across the US. (See Comcast Targets 6 New Gigabit Markets and Gigabit States Anyone?)
One of the most compelling aspects of the Gigabit Cities movement is that no one of those deployments is the same as the next. Each is unique in a wide range of characteristics, from technology format to branding to pricing to customer targets to marketing strategy.
Selecting the winner of the inaugural Leading Lights award for Most Innovative Gigabit Broadband Service, then, is an especially challenging task. The award will go to the communications service provider (fixed, cable, utility, municipality) that has launched the most innovative gigabit broadband service offering during the past year.
Here are the finalists in the Most Innovative Gigabit Broadband Service category:
AT&T Inc. – U-verse with AT&T GigaPower
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has the obvious size advantage of all the finalists in the category. The carrier has its eye on adding GigaPower-branded gigabit service to its U-verse offering in 100 cities across 25 major markets. AT&T also has the advantage of being a broad-based provider with the heft to layer applications and services (from video to smart home to security and analytics) on top of its gigabit pipes. The challenge for the behemoth will be in convincing customers to spend more, and in competing with similarly sized gigabit hopefuls such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Cox Communications Inc. .
C Spire – C Spire Fiber to the Home
C Spire 's gigabit service is distinct in its focus on engaging and enabling communities -- a critical component of giving community-based momentum to the Gigabit Cities movement. Early on, C Spire engaged Mississippi communities to register for the service and participate by opening up their fiber infrastructure to the company. The buy-in of those communities both expands the market positioning of the service, and potentially allows C Spire to offer services at more accessible price points.
Paul Bunyan Communications – GigaZone
Much like the eponymous mythical folk hero, the distinction of Paul Bunyan Communications ' gigabit rollout is its size. In a rural region not known for advanced, high-speed communications technology, Paul Bunyan's GigaZone undertaking ultimately will envelop 5,000 square miles of north central Minnesota geography -- one of the largest gigabit networks in the US, once the project is complete. The community transformation potential of an initiative of that scale truly defines the Gigabit Cities movement.
TDS Telecom – TDS 1Gig
TDS Telecom is taking on the cable competition in the markets where it is rolling out gigabit service, in parts of Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Georgia. The carrier is pairing its 1Gig service with TDS TV and adding its Remote PC offering for free in an effort to enhance the customer experience and provide the additional support its customers might need to fully embrace gigabit broadband. The TV-first strategy is smart because it doesn't require too much from an infrastructure standpoint (the network connection is already there because the carrier is providing TV service) and it makes the 1Gig service incremental revenue.
The Leading Lights 2015 winners and newest class of Hall of Fame inductees will be unveiled at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held the evening of Monday, June 8, at Chicago's Field Museum. The star-studded soirée will follow a day of special workshops covering topics such as SDN, 5G and Carrier Ethernet for the Cloud that take place ahead of Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which this year is being held at the McCormick Place Convention Center on June 9 and 10. (Details and the agenda are on our show site, Big Telecom Event.)
— Jason Meyers, contributing editor, special to Light Reading