Verizon (NYSE: VZ) is giving its small to medium business (SMB) customers access to the symmetrical FiOS speed tiers it launched in July via its SpeedMatch program.
Similar to residential FiOS customers, SMBs will be able to access symmetrical speeds at 25 Mbps up to 500 Mbps. A customer who today is using an asymmetrical 50/25 Mbps tier would be automatically upgraded to a 50 Mbps symmetrical tier for no additional cost.
The service provider is increasing the speeds of its six main tiers for FiOS business customers: 15/5 tier jumps to symmetrical 25 Mbps; 50/25 is now symmetrical 50 Mbps; 75/35 is now symmetrical 75 Mbps; 150/65 is now symmetrical 150 Mbps; 300/65 is now symmetrical 300 Mbps, and 500/100 is now symmetrical 500 Mbps.
Pricing for standalone FiOS business services start at $65 a month for the symmetrical 25 Mbps up to $365 for the 500 Mbps offer. Verizon is also offering phone and Internet bundle package prices that range from $99.99 to $404.99 a month (price ranges vary by region), including the newly launched 500 Mbps phone and Internet bundle package.
Existing SMB customers aren't required to do anything to get SpeedMatch, which Verizon said will be phased in its FiOS markets in the coming weeks. Upon completion, over 95 percent of its existing FiOS Internet residential and SMB customers will be able to get symmetrical speeds.
"What we found is that no matter what application you're talking about, the dynamic in small business, is that 'I am time deprived so any time you are buying me to run my business is a good thing,'" said Mark Adams, Director of SMB marketing, Verizon, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "When we surveyed our 25/25 Mbps symmetrical customers, I would say that SpeedMatch equals time for them."
What's been interesting for Verizon in rolling out the higher speed tiers is how businesses are using them.
One of their funeral home customers is using FiOS service to provide virtual memorial service for relatives that can't attend funeral services in person, for example.
"A gentleman who is running a funeral home is offering virtual funerals and virtual memorial services for people that can't travel," Adams said. "He told us that he had a lot of elderly people that can't travel and want to participate so he offers that and upload speed is great because there's no buffering in terms of a video feed."
While it offers various tiers that scale up to 500 Mbps, Adams said that the majority of the businesses it serves use mainly the 50 Mbps and 75 Mbps speed tiers.
"Most of our businesses start at 50 so we have a fair amount at 50 and 75 Mbps range," Adams said. "Almost everybody is going to get that free upgrade so most people will go from 50/50 to 75/75. Once you get up to the 300 and 500 Mbps tier, we don't have as many customers, but the other thing we have seen is as the consumers of these small businesses demand more we're seeing a fair amount of upgrades."
That's not to say that businesses aren't interested in using the higher speed 300 and 500 Mbps tiers. A smoothie shop in Tampa is using a 300 Mbps FiOS connection to support Wi-Fi as an amenity for its patrons.
"We have a smoothie shop in Tampa that's on 300 and when we talked to the owner he said that he had all of these people doing Wi-Fi and he offers them an immersive type technology in a smoothie shop," Adams said. "He was already sitting at 300 Mbps and saw the value of 300 Mbps."
Like its residential play, this is another way Verizon can challenge the growing presence of cable operators that have been successful in wooing away business customers to their hybrid fiber coax (HFC)-based and even fiber-based services where available. It also gives it a jump on cable, which is still waiting to add symmetric capabilities to its HFC-based service with the impending debut of the DOCSIS 3.1 standard.
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Updated article on Sept. 23 with new information on pricing and quotes from Mark Adams, Director of SMB marketing, Verizon.