Don't Hold Your Breath for CenturyLink Upgrades
Though Fiber to the Press Release Pays PR Dividends
As I noted last week
, CenturyLink has announced a very small trial whereby they plan to offer around 40,000 people in Omaha, Nebrasks fiber to the home connections. The trial, which appears to be piggybacking on older Qwest "Choice TV" discontinued hybrid coax trial technology, will run users $150 standalone, or $80 when bundled with existing television and phone services. It's quite a tone shift for a company that struggles to deliver heavily capped
3 Mbps to many of the DSL users across its 38 state coverage territory.
The announcement was intended to counter the hype of Google Fiber's entry into CenturyLink's Provo, Utah market, though as we noted last week, CenturyLink customers waiting for any significant network upgrades would be well-served to not hold their breath. Christopher Mitchell at Community Broadband Networks points out
that the lion's share of Capex at the company is focused on data hosting and running fiber to towers, with just two residential markets slated for rather modest actual network upgrades anytime soon:
CenturyLink is putting $350 million into expanding high speed Internet generally, but separately (from what we can tell) it is spending between $100-$150 million on improve Internet access in just two markets. Of those two, only 12% of Omaha is covered and the VDSL in Phoenix is barely competitive with existing cable. That should give you a sense of the scale of CenturyLink's investment dilemma: High costs and limited dollars.
CenturyLink wanted the press to believe that they too were seriously jumping into the 1 Gbps game, and judging from overall press reaction
, their "fiber to the press release" gambit paid huge dividends for very little actual money or work.