CenturyLink extends 1 Gig fiber-based service to 16 cities

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) is upping the ante in the symmetrical 1 Gbps fiber to the premises (FTTP) game, announcing that it will extend its service footprint to residential and business customers in select locations in 16 cities.

It is taking a targeted approach with its deployment strategy. Over the next year, the service provider said that it would provide the 1 Gbps service to residential and business customers in 10 cities and business customers in another six cities.

This multi-city residential and business service offering builds on its initial deployment of the 1 Gbps service to residential customers in certain parts of Omaha and Las Vegas and select business customers in Salt Lake City.

The expanded footprint has implications for both businesses and consumers.

For businesses, the 1 Gbps speeds are designed to help customers take better advantage of CenturyLink's growing set of cloud and managed service capabilities.

"We have made a lot of investments in cloud and IT-related services so we have Savvis and we feel great about the Tier 3 acquisition and the hybrid cloud platform we put together along with our Managed Office capability, which goes into managing the LAN capability on site so we have a set of assets and infrastructure to outsource your IT," said Shirish Lal, senior vice president of marketing for CenturyLink, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "From our perspective it was pretty natural to put that together with GPON so when you move your business to the cloud it feels like it's in the closet next door."

But this is not just a best effort offering. CenturyLink has combined the GPON 1 Gbps capabilities with its MPLS backbone so they can ensure quality of service (QoS).

"In our overall architecture, we put it together with our MPLS backbone so there's true quality of service capability options with the Gigabit offering so depending on the customer's requirements we feel like in the B2B space with the shift to cloud it was very natural," Lal said. "We tend to have a fair amount of fiber in the business areas so it was natural to make this shift towards gigabit in the business market."

For consumers, the driver is to give users a better experience to satisfy their growing hunger for online video and other bandwidth hungry content.

"On the consumer side, we ran the trial in Omaha and felt good about the response that we got from the market and the community as well," Lal said. "From our perspective, the partnership with the cities is a big part of it in terms of permitting, making it easy for us to build out as well as their support in terms of public relations and the customer response. We felt very good about it as a trial test bed and looked at communities where the dynamics would work for us and led to the additional consumer communities in addition to the business roll out." 

News of this expansion should not be all that surprising. Stewart Ewing, CFO of CenturyLink, told investors at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference last September that the Omaha deployment was a test bed that could help the company understand how it could replicate a FTTP buildout in other markets.

One of the things it did not reveal in its release is pricing of the service or if it will offer enhanced services such as Prism TV over the FTTP connection. In Las Vegas, customers can bundle the 1 Gbps service with Prism TV service for $124.94 per month or with unlimited nationwide calling for $134.95 per month, for example.

Similar to its earlier deployments, residential and business customers that reside in CenturyLink's target cities can access its site to find out if they are eligible to get service. The service provider will allow potential customers that are not on the initial list can get an e-mail alert when the service becomes available in their neighborhood.

Having a symmetric 1 Gbps offering will enhance CenturyLink's competitive footing for both residential and business customers, particularly against the cable operators that reside in these 16 markets. While cable operators are increasing their download speeds, they continue to be challenged with the upstream on their existing DOCSIS 3.0 networks.

For more:
- see the release

Editor's Corner: AT&T, CenturyLink and competitors are divided on dark fiber potential

Related articles:
CenturyLink to extend 1 Gbps FTTH service to Las Vegas
CenturyLink launches 1 Gbps fiber pilot in Omaha
CenturyLink's Ewing: Omaha FTTH network is a test bed
Verizon FiOS, AT&T U-verse trail Frontier and CenturyLink on Netflix's June speed index

Updated article on Aug. 6 with quotes from Shirish Lal, senior vice president of marketing for CenturyLink.