Telecommunications company CenturyLink will soon begin offering download speeds of 1 gigabit per second in a total of 16 U.S. cities, the company announced Tuesday. CenturyLink, which is the third largest telecom provider in the U.S., said the service roll out will begin over the next 12 months.
The 1 Gbps service will be able to accommodate symmetrical speeds, meaning customers will be able to upload and download at the same high-speed rates, unlike the more common asymmetrical services in which upload rates are typically much slower. CenturyLink said it will offer the new service over its existing fiber network, which it will expand to provide the necessary fiber-to-the-premises infrastructure.
The new service will be made available initially to residential and business customers in Columbia and Jefferson City, Missouri; Denver; Las Vegas; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Omaha, Nebraska; Orlando, Florida; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City; and Seattle. In addition, businesses in the following cities will also have access to the new supercharged Internet service: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Phoenix; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Spokane, Washington; and Tucson, Arizona.
Meeting Consumer, Business Needs
The offering will extend CenturyLink’s 1 Gbps service already available to residential customers in certain parts of Omaha and Las Vegas and some business customers in Salt Lake City, the company said. Speeds of 1 Gbps are about 100 times faster than the national average for U.S. customers. CenturyLink says the increased speed will allow customers to stream high-definition video content with little to no delays, and download movies, songs, and TV shows in seconds.
The company also pitched the expansion as an effort to meet the needs of businesses using CenturyLink’s private and public cloud offerings. “One gigabit speeds help businesses increase productivity and efficiency by allowing them to gain instant access to cloud business applications, share multimedia files, stream video content, and back up data in real time,” the company said in a statement.
The service will cost $79.95, according to a Washington Post story citing company spokesperson Linda Johnson. That’s more than the $70 a month charged by the publicly owned ISP in Chattanooga, Tennessee, for gigabit download speeds, the Post noted.
Dueling Fiber Announcements
The news is the latest in what has become a flurry of announcements by telecom providers touting localized experiments in gigabit service in select communities. AT&T recently launched a similar service in Austin, Texas for $70 to $100 and announced earlier in 2014 that it might consider expanding its service to as many as 100 U.S cities. However, the company has assured investors that any move into gigabit service will represent a negligible investment on its part.
Interest in providing gigabit-speed service was kickstarted by Google’s announcement that it would be offering fiber optic Internet service to a limited number of cities. The search giant has so far launched its Fiber ISP service in Austin, Texas; Provo, Utah; and Kansas City, Missouri, and has claimed that it will expand the service to as many as 34 more cities.
Although the reality of gigabit download speeds over fiber optic networks has so far remained limited, major ISPs have already begun to respond to the threat. Time Warner Cable, for example, pushed through legislation in both North Carolina and South Carolina prohibiting cities from building their own fiber optic services.