Frontier steps into the 1 Gig broadband game in Durham, N.C.

Frontier Communications is making its first move into the 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) game by launching services for both residential and business customers in the Durham, N.C., area.

The 1 Gbps speeds will be available to both residential and business customers in in Carolina Arbors, American Tobacco Campus, Durham City Center, Research Triangle Park – Park Center Development, One Park Center and Jordan at Southpoint.

North Carolina overall has been a major area of investment for Frontier. During the past few years, the service provider has invested over $80 million to upgrade and enhance the state's network.

Dennis Bloss, vice president and general manager for Frontier in North Carolina, told FierceTelecom that the decision to bring 1 Gbps service to Durham is being driven by growth of businesses, particularly area startups that have set up shop in the redeveloped American Tobacco Campus. 

Built on the former Lucky Strike tobacco plant, the campus is unique in that its 75 companies have their own Wi-Fi access points. It also includes a baseball stadium for the local Bulls minor league team and an outdoor concert amphitheater. Previously, the service provider won a deal to wire the campus with Wi-Fi.

"We looked around at all of the markets and Durham is one of the few markets across the country where you have a lot of growth, economic growth and population growth," said Bloss. "There's a lot going on in Durham from a startup point of view in terms of incubators and all the developments like the American Underground and the redevelopment of Research Triangle Park. We saw it as a great location to launch our entry into this gigabit speed."

Frontier had traditionally offered a Gigabit Ethernet product to large businesses in Durham for a number of years; Bloss added that this product is designed for more "small business and home Gigabit to the home so it's a different product set, but it's getting our feet in the waters with some of our other peers and companies like Google Fiber who launched in Kansas City." 

Unlike Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG), which is offering its service in Kansas City to residential customers, the service provider wanted to be able to provide 1 Gbps services to businesses.

"The fact that we launched a commercial offering along with a residential offering is significant because in Kansas City, if you want a 1 Gbps connection, you have to find an old house somewhere," Bloss said. "We wanted to support the entrepreneurs and startups in our community with our launch in Durham and that's why we launched a commercial and a residential offering."

Frontier is currently building out the service to two Greenfield residential neighborhoods, including Carolina Arbors and Jordan at Southpoint, which are in the process of being developed.

Already, the service provider has turned up a half gigabit service for one residential customer in Carolina Arbors and one business customer in the American Tobacco Campus. What's promising for Frontier from a customer target point of view is that it has a mix of businesses, including startups that will require heavier bandwidth, and residential apartments.

Another potential area of residential and business growth for the 1 Gbps service is Research Triangle Park, where eventually residential houses are going to be built.

"The Research Triangle Park' 100 acre redevelopment doesn't have residential today, but residential is planned in the redevelopment of the park," Bloss said.

Although he could not name specific areas, Bloss said that this rollout is part of a broader launch of 1 Gbps services in other territories where it provides services today.

"You'll hear us announcing other markets soon across the country and you'll hear us expand heavily in the Durham market as well," Bloss said. "We launched in several locations, but we're looking to expand it as rapidly throughout the Durham footprint and really get a large covered population from our fiber-to-the-prem solution."

But 1 Gbps service is just part of a broader set of services Frontier is planning for its business customers. Given the ongoing demand from its business and wholesale customers, the service provider is looking to offer a 100 GigE service.

"In Research Triangle Park and Durham, there are many large companies here that had a need for a 10 Gigabit Ethernet product and have a roadmap in the next year to where we're going to 100G dedicated Internet access (DIA) and point-to-point in the park for some of our large enterprise customers," Bloss said. "Whenever you build backbone to that scale it helps you be ready to be able to deliver this home version of the product as well."

Having built out an Ethernet network in 55 markets stretched across 10 states in October 2011, the telco introduced a new Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) Silver service in February 2013. 

Building on its initial Ethernet momentum, the service provider later introduced two new QoS tiers for its Ethernet service: Ethernet Virtual Private Line (EVPL) Gold, a point-to-point service that includes bandwidth guarantees, a limited delay in traffic prioritization and monthly reporting. Likewise, Frontier's EVPL Platinum is a point-to-point service for customers that have real-time data delivery requirements and corresponding SLAs.

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