Hawaiian Telcom's Barber: 1 Gbps creates awareness of all broadband tiers

Hawaiian Telcom in June became the latest in a string of telcos to introduce a 1 Gbps service. And like its fellow mainland telcos such as CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) it, too, is seeing the phones ring for all of its broadband service tiers.

In June, Hawaiian Telecom began lighting up its 1-Gig service in the Hawaiian islands, doubling the 500 Mbps broadband service that its customers can currently access. The company said that it has invested nearly $500 million in building its fiber network and systems and in 2015 it will invest about $100 million in the effort.

Hawaiian Telcom's FTTP service will be available in about 96,000 locations initially and more will be added as the company expands its 1-Gig footprint.

Scott Barber, who just took the reins as Hawaiian Telcom's CEO in June, told FierceTelecom in an interview that he's seeing the 1 Gbps service make customers aware of what speeds they currently have.

"As soon as you begin to shout you have a 1 Gig service it begins to draw people's attention and when you explain to them why 1 Gig is closer to reality than you think, they begin to examine what service they have and they call for more bandwidth," Barber said.

In a study where Hawaiian Telcom asked focus groups what speed they had in their home, not many people knew.

"Only one customer knew exactly what they had but all of them were guessing," Barber said. "People will order service knowing specifically what they are ordering, and a year or two later they forgot, so when you're able to talk about 1 Gig in the marketplace being available people begin to pay attention to what they have and the phones start to light up."

While Barber could not disclose how many customers have taken up the 1 Gbps service, the company is about four years into the fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployment and it has enabled nearly 166,000 homes on Oahu. 

"We'll continue to enable several thousand more homes with FTTP over the next few years," Barber said. "Hawaiian Telcom benefits from densities that allow us to build networks at a cost point that's most attractive in the nation due to aerial plant and the densities on Oahu."  

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