EATEL announced recently that it would offer plans with faster upload and download speeds. The faster plans are in response to a growing demand for high bandwidth content like video. While the new plans should be welcomed by customers, one question remains: at a time when Google (News - Alert) seeks to expand its fiber solution and its gigabit speeds to even more cities, will EATEL’s new plans be enough?
Gonzales, La.-based EATEL provides telecommunications solutions to residential customers in Livingston and Ascension parishes (counties) near Baton Rouge. The company claims that it offers one of the only 100 percent fiber-to-the-home networks in the U.S.
EATEL is offering two new high-speed Internet packages. A premium plan with up to 50 Mbps download and 25 Mbps upload is priced at $71.95 per month. An ultimate package with up to 150 Mbps download/40 Mbps upload is $99.95 per month. Bundles with TV and phone service are also available.
With Google building its fiber network in areas like Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas, and the Kansas City area, while also seeking expansion to other metropolitan areas like Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn., and Portland, Ore., what does this mean for local service providers like EATEL?
Google Fiber is under construction in parts of Kansas City, but where it’s available, customers for about the same price as EATEL’s premium plan, could get up to 1000 Mbps download/upload from Google. Although the Baton Rouge area was not one of the sites Google selected to pilot and later expand Fiber, it was in the running before Kansas City was chosen launch the program and is a sizable metropolitan area with a population over 800,000. If Google wanted to expand Fiber to Baton Rouge, it would be welcomed.
It’s probably too soon, however, to throw dirt on the coffin of telecom providers just yet. It’s going to take time for Google to bring Fiber to all the areas they seek to offer service. The Kansas Legislature proposed a law that would prevent its municipalities from entering into agreements with companies like Google. Although it is unlikely to get very far, the law is a sign that some communities will resist Fiber. Easements and right-of-ways have to be worked out for massive projects like this to happen.
This buys time for other telecoms of the world to catch up. They already have a presence in their community, political support and right-of-way access; adding gigabit level infrastructure would simply be a matter of replacing what they’ve already installed. If the demand for broadband explodes as much as many industry experts predict, there may be enough room in the market for both the small and large providers to coexist.
Edited by Alisen Downey