CenturyLink (News - Alert) has launched symmetrical gigabit speeds for residential and business customers in select locations in 16 cities. Just how select is the question, but even skeptics might agree symmetrical broadband availability at such speeds is a helpful development.
CenturyLink expects to have gigabit services available to “hundreds of thousands of residential and business customers” within the next 12 months.
The 10 cities where both consumers and business customers can buy include Columbia, Mo.; Denver, Colo.; Jefferson City, Mo.; Las Vegas, Nev.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; Omaha, Neb.; Orlando, Fla.; Portland, Maine; Salt Lake City, Utah and Seattle, Wash.
Markets where business customers now can buy 1-Gbps symmetrical services include Albuquerque, N.M.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Sious Falls, S.D.; Spokane, Wash. and Tucson, Ariz.
CenturyLink plans to charge $150 a month for the service, but $80 a month if the access is purchased in a bundle including fixed network voice service. Since many customers really do not want to buy voice service from CenturyLink, the effective price in many cases really will range from $125 to $150 a month.
Though CenturyLink also has such bundling practices in place for other existing high speed access services, such bundling will be a bigger barrier to adoption than in most other markets, where the unbundled price is between $70 and $80 a month.
Some might say that bundling approach is being taken because CenturyLink really does not want to sell many such accounts, but the reason has more to do with slowing erosion of voice line accounts.
Another issue is the extent of coverage.
In Denver, for example, CenturyLink plans to reach "a large percentage of the city" by early 2015. Also, in Denver, the service will not be available in the surrounding metro area, but only within the city of Denver.
Comcast (News - Alert) will respond, of course, though it is not clear whether the response will take the form of boosting speeds for no extra charge, as Comcast has done in some other markets, or a rival build offering a top speed of 1 Gbps.
One might argue Comcast will avoid disrupting its retail packaging by too rapidly shifting to much higher speeds, allowing its retail speeds to climb more gradually towards the gigabit range, while maintaining or adjusting prices for its existing services so gross revenue does not drop.
Edited by Adam Brandt