CenturyLink launches 1 Gbps fiber pilot in Omaha

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) is providing its own answer to Google Fiber's (Nasdaq: GOOG) last-mile fiber vision by launching a 1 Gbps-capable fiber to the premises (FTTP) pilot deployment that will serve 48,000 homes and businesses in Omaha, Neb. The service will begin rolling out next week.

Offering a new symmetrical connection, CenturyLink said in a press release that it will upgrade its existing fiber architecture with new FTTP technology. However, it did not reveal what vendor it is using for the deployment.

Eligible customers will be able to get a direct connection to its recently upgraded 100G global backbone network, which was built to deal with the deluge of new consumer and business traffic such as Ethernet and video streaming.

Customers utilizing CenturyLink's 1 Gbps service in Omaha will have a direct connection to the company's recently upgraded 100 Gbps global network, designed to accommodate the bandwidth demand driven by cloud computing, mobile traffic, big data and video streaming.

The service provider said that it will begin rolling out the 1 Gbps service next week and expects to have its new FTTP network available to all 48,000 customers by early October.

Having a 1 Gbps service will enhance the telco's competitive footing, especially against local cable operator competitor Cox Communications, which currently offers 50-100 Mbps over its existing DOCSIS 3.0 cable systems. It also will surpass offerings from fellow telcos AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) that offer speeds of up to 6 and 25 Mbps, respectively.

The question that this deployment will prompt is whether CenturyLink will replicate the 1 Gbps service in other markets.

Stopping short of revealing any future plans, it said that would "evaluate its Omaha 1 Gbps offer before determining further deployment of this advanced technology, considering such factors as positive community support, competitive parity in the marketplace and the ability to earn a reasonable return on its investment."

What's interesting about CenturyLink's 1 Gbps plan is that it comes on the heels of Google Fiber's recent move to deliver 1 Gbps service in Provo, Utah, a market the telco entered into when it purchased Qwest in 2011. 

Building a FTTP network is a big shift in CenturyLink's last-mile strategy. Similar to its fellow incumbent AT&T, CenturyLink has been dedicated to using a hybrid copper/fiber to the node (FTTN) last mile architecture using a mixture of ADSL2+ and VDSL2. Over the VDSL2-enabled architecture, CenturyLink can deliver up to 40 Mbps in various legacy Qwest and CenturyLink markets.

For more:
- see the release

On the Hot Seat: CenturyLink's Poll: We're ready to put 100G at the edge

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