Windstream has rolled out 1 Gbps FTTH service across a large portion of North Georgia, furthering its effort to prove to lawmakers that the service provider is making investments to offer residents and businesses higher speeds that were not previously available.
This latest upgrade will give local rural residents broadband speeds that exceed the lower tier 10 Mbps offerings from AT&T.
The service provider has rolled out the 1 Gbps service to residential and business customers across 15 North Georgia communities whose service options had been mainly limited to lower speed copper services.
These communities include 15 North Georgia communities: Blairsville, Byron, Clarkesville, Cleveland, Colbert, Dahlonega, Dawsonville, Haddock, Jasper, Jeffersonville, Lakeland, Milledgeville, Noble, Pendergrass and Springfield.
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Today, Windstream’s 1 Gbps FTTH service is now available in five states. Besides Northern Georgia, Windstream offers the 1 Gbps service in Lincoln, Nebraska; Lexington, Kentucky; Sugar Land, Texas and seven North Carolina communities.
Upon completion, the North Georgia expansion will make gigabit service available to 2,500 households.
HFC upgrades on track
Expanding the availability of 1 Gbps fiber-based broadband service is just one part of Windstream’s broader broadband expansion in Georgia.
Similar to other Tier 2 telcos, Windstream also owns and operates a number of hybrid fiber coax (HFC) cable systems in various markets like Northern Georgia.
In addition to expanding its FTTH footprint, the service provider recently completed the first stage of upgrading its HFC plant in North Georgia, enabling over 6,000 households in Blairsville (Union County) to have access to up to 100 Mbps internet speeds. By the end of 2017 cable upgrade plan—which was announced late last year—will provide high speeds to more than 67,000 households.
Upon completing the cable upgrade project, Windstream will have upgraded eligible customers across 13 communities in North Georgia, including: Blairsville, Hiawassee, Young Harris, Dawsonville, Helen, Homer, Cornelia, Commerce, Jefferson, Clarkesville, Nicholson, Dahlonega and Cleveland, as well as Hayesville, N.C.
While Windstream did not reveal the cost of the 100 Mbps service, the introduction of this speed tier reflects that the service provider wants to give its customers various options that leverage all of its network facilities.
Overcoming network criticism
Upgrading its FTTH and HFC networks in Northern Georgia will also enable Windstream to overcome criticism from lawmakers that claimed Windstream was not making necessary upgrades to support the state’s rural communities.
Tony Thomas, CEO of Windstream, told Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., in a letter that since 2014, the telco had invested over $80 million to upgrade its broadband infrastructure throughout Georgia. A big part of that investment included deepening the reach of its fiber network to include neighborhood nodes serving 97% of Windstream's customers in the ninth congressional district.
In 2016, the service provider invested $38 million to extend faster speeds to more users, improve reliability and "future proofing" the core network for emerging needs.
"The upgraded fiber-to-the-node network enables us to offer speeds of at least 10 Mbps—and up to 100 Mbps—to 81% of the locations we serve in the Ninth District," Thomas said in a letter.
At that time, Collins said that Windstream’s reliability issues were an issue for local businesses and public safety organizations.
"The reality is, there is a local fire department that is unable to adequately serve the community because of poor Windstream connections,” Collins said. “There are people who are unable to operate businesses, or work from home, because of unreliable service. This is unacceptable."