CenturyLink to extend 1 Gbps FTTH service to Las Vegas

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) has named Las Vegas as the next location for its 1 Gbps-capable fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband service.

Beginning this fall, the service provider said it will deliver service to select residential and customers in "select Las Vegas neighborhoods."

While it did not reveal pricing or if it's going to also offer its Prism IPTV service over FTTH, the service provider plans to offer the service initially to residential customers and small businesses starting early next year.

Having already launched a 1 Gbps-capable fiber to the premises pilot that will serve 48,000 homes and businesses in Omaha, Neb., the service provider is not a FTTH novice. Eligible customers in Omaha will pay $150 for a standalone data service or $80 if they purchase a triple play bundle.

Similar to its Omaha, Neb. market, the service provider will offer two pricing options for eligible customers.

Residential 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. As a standalone service, it will cost $149.95 per month.

Prior to announcing the FTTH service, CenturyLink had already offered the Prism IPTV service in Las Vegas over its existing fiber to the node (FTTN) network.

"What we're actively doing is bringing to a pretty good footprint in Las Vegas similar to what we did in Omaha with a 1 Gbps offering bundled with Prism and voice services as well," said Matt Beal, CTO of CenturyLink, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "It's a continuation of that exploration of what value does the customer see in it, how do we operate it, and what does the marketplace look like with the evolution of the Internet, consumer services and cloud services as well for our business customers."

Like the Omaha market, Las Vegas which CenturyLink entered through its acquisition of Embarq, is a Brownfield market the underlying technology is different.

"Greenfield is very straightforward, but Brownfield is where the real challenges of both the cost and transition and customer impact," Beal said.  

Regardless of the challenges, Beal said Las Vegas was one that it felt it could feasibly upgrade to fiber.

"This was another opportunity where we were able to look at our customer base and assess and find there were a couple of areas we didn't serve them where we had the right economics, the right fiber infrastructure, and with a reasonable investment we were able to upgrade our customer's experience and the service we could offer," he said. "We made the decision to extend what we're doing in Omaha into Las Vegas and see if we can demonstrate some of the lessons learned thus far."

In addition to offering data services and IPTV, CenturyLink is keen to see how its home security service will operate over the FTTH network.

"One of the service offerings that we don't have in Omaha but we have in Las Vegas is a home security product so also seeing how that slightly broader mix appeals to customers and performs across Gigabit where you can remotely manage and monitor your home via the online video cameras," Beal said. 

Las Vegas appears to be just one of a number of markets where it could build out FTTH services. In a press release, CenturyLink said it "intends to launch the service in additional communities into 2014."

News of these FTTH plans comes on the heels of comments made by Stewart Ewing, CFO of CenturyLink during the recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2013 Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference. During that event, he said the telco will use Omaha as a model it could replicate to deploy FTTH in other markets.

One of the questions that will likely arise about CenturyLink's FTTH strategy is if it will make a similar move in markets where it is the incumbent telco such as Provo, Utah. The service provider protested Google Fiber's (Nasdaq: GOOG) purchase of the struggling iProvo network and its plans to offer a 1 Gbps fiber-based broadband service to residential and business customers.

Fellow incumbent telco AT&T (NYSE: T), for one, has responded to the Google Fiber threat by launching its 'GigaPower' FTTH network in Austin, Texas. Beginning in December, the service provider will initially offer customers symmetrical speeds of up to 300 Mbps with the option to upgrade to 1 Gbps in mid-2014.

For more:
- see the release

Editor's Corner: Has Google Fiber set the pace for 1 Gig FTTH pricing?

Related articles:
CenturyLink launches 1 Gbps fiber pilot in Omaha
CenturyLink's Ewing: Omaha FTTH network is a test bed

Updated article on Oct. 10 on service pricing and quotes from Matt Beal, CTO of CenturyLink.