With gigabit services now available in 19 markets across its operating territory now, TDS Telecom is getting a sense of the impact gigabit networks can have on communities.
The carrier entered the Gigabit Cities sector in July with the launch of 1 Gbit/s services in Hollis and New London, N.H. As of this week, TDS Telecom has made its gigabit services available to customers in parts of 19 markets in four states: Elkhorn, Johnson Creek, Monroe, Waterford and Wind Lake, Wis.; Antrim, Bennington, Chichester, Contoocook, Deering, Hillsborough, Hollis, Hopkinton and New London, N.H.; Farragut, Halls, La Vergne and Mt. Juliet, Tenn.; and St. Mary's, Ga.
TDS Telecom adds markets to its Gigabit Cities roster -- which comprises mostly smaller, more rural communities -- as its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network architecture is ready, and it assesses enough customer demand. Unlike many gigabit service providers, TDS always leads with a TV-first strategy. (See To TDS, TV Is a Gigabit Must-Have.)
"We're going back into markets that were engineered for TV and that have had TV for a while, and looking what it takes to put a gig there -- and it doesn't take much," says Matt Apps, manager of Internet product management and development at TDS Telecom, referring to the cost and complexity of adding gigabit-level services. "We're showing the power of fiber in those markets. Because the glass is in the ground, it really is just an electronics switch. A lot of the [optical network terminals] we've been buying and deploying on customers' homes support a gig."
Given that ease of upgrade, TDS Telecom isn't concerned about customers flocking to gigabit services just yet, and penetration is still in the single digit percentages in Hollis and New London. But Apps says what he calls the "gigabit halo effect" is useful in demonstrating the carrier's capabilities to customers if and when they need higher speeds -- even if they come in as $35/month 100 Mbit/s customers (the carrier's minimum data transmission speed) rather than $99/month 1 Gbit/s customers.
"We get the conversation going with the customer and deliver them great speed," he says. "At $35 a month, now you're giving it to everyone. We're putting it at this price point to keep it affordable and creating this market."
And Apps acknowledged that for these smaller communities, just the knowledge that gigabit speeds are available can aid economic development, boosting the appeal of neighborhoods and towns to businesses and residents.
"Realtors can start to talk about 'gig-certified homes," he says. "The halo effect goes all the way to real estate value, even if people may not know yet exactly what they're going to do with a gig."
— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading