CenturyLink is conducting 100 Mbps over copper trial in Salt Lake City

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) has begun trialing a new 100 Mbps service over its existing copper network for consumer and business customers in Salt Lake City.

Although it's still in the early stages, the company said that by using vectoring and bonding technology it can bring the service to a large portion of the city to complement its growing 1 Gbps FTTH service.

"We hope to get 100 Mbps or better to a good part of Salt Lake City," said Stewart Ewing, CFO of CenturyLink, during the recent Oppenheimer Technology, Internet and Communications conference. "We'll see how that helps us from a competitive standpoint before we make a decision to roll it out to more consumers."

Interestingly, in markets where it delivers 1 Gbps service such as Salt Lake City and Omaha, Neb., it is seeing what it calls a "halo effect" of consumers purchasing other speed tiers it offers over its existing copper network.

Within Omaha, one of its first FTTH markets, Ewing said that the 1 Gbps offering drove more customers to inquire about other speeds such as its 40 and 80 Mbps offerings.

Overall, CenturyLink continues to enhance the speeds of its existing copper-based DSL and FTTH networks. Today, 56 percent of its customers can get access to 20 Mbps or higher, while 70 percent can get access to 10 Mbps or higher.

Ewing said that "we should expect the availability of 20 Mbps and 10 Mbps to continue to improve as we continue to roll more fiber to the home and do more bonding and potentially add vectoring in some of its markets as well."

At the same time, Ewing reiterated CenturyLink's goal to bring 1 Gbps FTTH service to 700,000 homes by the end of the year.  

"We plan to have fiber to about 700,000 homes in the footprint where we're providing gigabit services," Ewing said. "That should help us improve our ability to be able to market to those customers and be competitive with the cable companies."

CenturyLink is hardly alone in its desire to get more juice out of its existing copper network.

Fellow ILEC Frontier Communications has also been actively deploying a mix of vectoring and bonding technologies on its existing copper network facilities to deliver 100 Mbps service to consumers in its Connecticut market. The telco began offering a 100 Mbps service as it looks to recover from a $5 million decline in Connecticut revenues in the second quarter, a factor it anticipated due to broadband pricing migrations,

Because vectoring is still copper-based technology, how many subscribers can get the service will depend on the condition of the copper plant and their distance from the nearest remote terminal (RT) or central office (CO).

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