Austin Starts to Show What a Competitive Market Looks Like
This week's announcement that Grande Communications would be offering $65 1 Gbps connections in Austin
quite correctly have many noting that Austin is starting to look like the kind of competitive market we should be seeing elsewhere. The Washington Post
rightfully celebrates this sea change, noting that Grande joins Google Fiber and AT&T, who both are promising to offer 1 Gbps lines later this year:
Grande's entry suggests it isn't only large, national businesses that can compete when it comes to offering high-speed broadband. Austin is fast becoming the site of an arms race among broadband providers at a time when many U.S. communities are dominated by one or perhaps two companies. But there's a good reason for that: The city is already known for its forward thinking.
Granted we might want to hold off on the bubbly until some people actually get connected, but it's still a refreshing shift in a U.S. broadband market not known for this kind of competition. A 1 Gbps Google Fiber line will run Austinites $70, while AT&T's planned "GigaPower" offering will also provide 1 Gbps for $70 -- if you're willing to have your online behavior tracked
and suffer through some additional snoopvertising.
Mmmm yeah We'll get there when we'll get there.
AT&T rolled out updated symmetrical 300Mbps to something like downtown (severely limited), Uverse 18Mbps is not even available everywhere.
Grande Communications usually doesn't intersect with Time Warner Cable (I think there are some areas that can choose, but those are a rarity, plus your apartment complex usually has one or the other, not both)
Time Warner Cable makes gestures about "future service updates" (they didn't offer to do same update as NYC market is supposed to get, with faster speeds for same money), and as far as I remember their premium tier is 100Mbps right now.
Google Fiber makes gestures about "future service" (as in you can't really tell what/where/when they will actually be providing that magical gigabit, though I hope they will cover bigger part of Austin)
Hopefully better speeds will appear soon Or at least before Comcast finishes buying TWC and then continue push for per-byte-billing (technically Uverse contractually limits you to 1TB, with overages of $10/10GB up to max of $30 -- I can live with that)
Hyperom: Rants about life, politics, technology
Re: Questions... I have TWC, U-Verse, and Grande available in my area, and have been a Grande customer for two years. I was a TWC and U-Verse customer in the past. Grande has been the only one with FTTH in the two areas I've lived.
I got the notice for Grande's gigabit upgrade, and have an appointment just over a week out. I received an email, a flyer on my door, and a mailer about this offering. Email came on a Friday, flyer/mailer came on Monday.
I think there are a couple of reasons why Grande maybe first, and why they are able to offer it for $65.
1. They picked only certain neighborhoods in West Austin for this first batch of installs, that happen to be filled with a lot of tech, university, and medical professionals. I hesitate to say "upscale", but the neighborhoods trend that way. I think it's not so much the economic factor, as there are a lot of people in these neighborhoods who are going to be interested in gigabit. There are a lot of small medical practices/offices in the neighborhood as well. It's possible that Grande picked these neighborhoods because they had a large presence there, and it's just a coincidence that they are filled with tech/med/uni types, but I doubt it.
2. Many in this area already have FTTH, and Grande has been pushing FTTH for some time now. It's pretty easy for them to undercut the other ISPs by $5 if they already have FTTH. Even if people don't have FTTH in this area, the fiber infrastructure is already present at the street/block level, so it's not a big deal to hook them up. I see the FTTH boxes on a lot of houses in my area.
3. It's a big chance for them to pick up more customers and get their brand out there a little more. They are promising no caps, and that they won't track/share our activity, and in the literature even cite AT&T tracking/sharing information with other parties.
I have FTTH already (40/4) and have been pleased. Never had any major problems. The Grande customer rep I spoke with seemed to believe this was going to be a very quick upgrade for me - swapping out my router, and they might spend a few minutes working on the box outside.
I cannot tell you how long FTTH has been available in my area, I can only say it's been around for at least two years in my experience, and I see a lot of boxes when we go on our walks.
When they set me up for gigabit, I'll report back on how long it took, equipment, etc.
Re: Grande Service - Almost Impossible to Get It seems like TWC or Grande pay the apartment complexes for some kind of exclusive access, or they offer them something (discounted rates, etc.). A friend is renting one of the new apartments built over in the Mueller development, and they only have TWC available, or at least did as of a year ago. Interestingly enough, they were told by the apartment people (so take it with a grain of salt) that they were wired for fiber by TWC. Meanwhile, I think the houses at Mueller are wired for fiber by AT&T, and possibly are FTTH.
I found this article from 2012 that mentioned some work Grande did:
States that they are mostly near downtown Austin, but are going to be expanding, and finished a three-year project in August of 2012 to upgrade their network. That could be their FTTH offerings. If that three-year project they wrapped up in 2012 was done right, then they were ready for gigabit.