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Optical/IP Networks

Frontier goes big with 2-Gig

Frontier Communications conveniently chose "Twosday" to plow ahead with its anticipated launch of a symmetrical 2-Gig broadband service that's delivered via its expanding fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network.

Frontier, which has been signaling for months that it would launch a 2-Gig service in early 2022, is initially offering the premium-level, uncapped tier for $149.99 per month. Frontier is tacking on some perks to the first 1,000 customers who order the 2-Gig service: a 43-inch Amazon Fire TV and a Logitech webcam. Frontier's 2-Gig service also comes with whole-home Wi-Fi (including extenders from Amazon-owned Eero), a voice line and service activation for no added cost.

Frontier's 2-Gig tier comes with its own logo. 
(Source: Frontier Communications)
Frontier's 2-Gig tier comes with its own logo.
(Source: Frontier Communications)

Frontier is pairing the new offering with a 2-Gig router equipped with Wi-Fi 6E, a new standard that adds access to a swath of spectrum in the 6GHz band alongside traditional access in the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands.

Frontier is making 2-Gig available across its full FTTP footprint, and erected a website that enables prospective customers to determine if the new service is available to them. The company said it has also stood up a "pop-up store" at Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California, to support the 2-Gig launch.

Frontier is currently selling its fiber-based 1-Gig service for $74.99, a tier that also tosses in a $200 Visa Reward Card and the Eero Pro 6 whole-home Wi-Fi system.

The 2-Gig launch presents another competitive wake-up call for Frontier's cable rivals, which include Comcast, Charter Communications and Altice USA/Suddenlink.

Comcast markets a residential FTTP product called Gigabit Pro that, following a recent speed upgrade, now delivers symmetrical speeds of 3 Gbit/s. Comcast and Charter have also conducted recent trials of DOCSIS 4.0, a new technology for widely deployed hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks, that produced symmetrical, multi-gigabit speeds. Altice USA, meanwhile, is accelerating its FTTP buildout and a revised plan that includes a commitment to extend fiber to 2.5 million homes in its rural Suddenlink footprint.

FTTP upgrades plow ahead

Frontier, which is trialing 25G PON technology with Nokia, is unleashing a 2-Gig service amid an ambitious FTTP upgrade.

In addition to targeting 1 million new fiber locations in 2022, Frontier has a "Wave 2" build that will extend FTTP to an additional 6 million locations by 2025. Frontier expects to end that period with a footprint that passes 10 million locations with FTTP. Frontier's Wave 3 segment includes about 5 million more locations that could be built out through supplemental government funding, partnerships or potential divestment or swap scenarios.

Frontier added a record 45,000 fiber broadband customers in the third quarter of 2021. The company, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy last April, is scheduled to announce Q4 2021 results on Wednesday, February 23.

Multi-gig launches on the rise

Frontier's 2-Gig debut follows a recent string of multi-gig service launches. Here's a snapshot:

  • Verizon launched a 2-Gig Fios service in New York, starting at $119.99 per month, with plans to extend it to the rest of the Fios footprint later this year.
  • AT&T has launched symmetrical 2-Gig and 5-Gig tiers to more than 70 US markets, with more market launches to come.
  • Ziply Fiber has unleashed 2-Gig and 5-Gig tiers in 60 cities and towns in parts of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Formed in 2020 via the acquisition of Frontier's operations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, Ziply Fiber expects to launch the new multi-Gig tiers to the rest of its footprint by the second quarter of 2022.
  • GCI, the largest operator in Alaska, has booted up "2 GIG red unlimited," a tier that pairs a 2-Gig downstream with a 75 Mbit/s upstream, and runs on the operator's DOCSIS network.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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