Consolidated did not have to conduct a major upgrade to enable 1 Gbps service for its customers in Sacramento and Roseville, California, as the telco is leveraging the existing FTTH network infrastructure laid by SureWest, which Consolidated purchased in 2012.
Interestingly, Consolidated's fiber network was initially built over a decade ago when SureWest purchased Western Integrated Networks, which operated as WINfirst, in 2002. However, FTTH internet and TV services were delivered over a legacy BPON network architecture.
By using the existing fiber network, Consolidated can more immediately address customers that want the 1 Gbps service.
Anne Chacon, a spokeswoman for Consolidated, told FierceTelecom in an interview that the telco is only “offering it wherever we’ve rolled out our fiber network.”
As it has done in other markets where it offers FTTH services, Consolidated will be able to launch the service by installing new GPON-based ONTs at the central office (CO) and equipping eligible customers with new optical network terminals (ONTs) and gateways at their homes.
“At the regional and central facilities there’s equipment that has to be switched out to accommodate the speed, but the fiber itself is ready to go as is,” Chacon said. “On the customer end it does require a gig compatible router so we offer one we provide as part of the subscription to our customers or they can chose to have their own if they want to manage their own wireless router.”
Although Chacon could not say what cities Consolidated would target next with 1 Gbps, future expansions are in the works.
“We don’t have anything to announce with specifics, but it’s our intention to upgrade those facilities both here in California and in other markets where we have fiber,” Chacon said.
By offering 1 Gbps internet speeds in selects areas of its California service territory, Consolidated will pose a greater challenge to Comcast and AT&T. Following the Google Fiber mantra, Consolidated’s 1 Gbps service is competitively priced at $70 a month.
Consolidated did not reveal how many customers are using its 1 Gbps service, but Chacon said that it is seeing greater interest from customers in Kansas City and Houston, where it currently offers the 1 Gbps service.
Similar to other telcos that offer 1 Gbps speeds, Consolidated is seeing a halo effect where customers are switching from lower speed 10 or 25 Mbps connections to a 50 Mbps offering.
“The most popular speed is now 50 Mbps so we’ve seen that increase,” Chacon said. “As we have offered higher speeds, the average that our customers are taking continues to go up.”
But as the service provider rolls out 1 Gbps, Consolidated Communications will work to educate customers on how to use the service as it installs it at each home.
“We’re doing education with customers coming onto 1 Gig,” Chacon said. “You get a gig to the side of your house and then you get a wireless router and start connecting things to the wireless router and it’s interesting how many connected devices in the home eats up bandwidth.”
Chacon added that "if your device is a few years old it's not going to pull through a gig no matter what you're getting to the house."
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