Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Verizon Raises Speeds on Fiber Offerings

One of the more perplexing facts of US internet has been the slow speeds provided by the incumbent providers. Most surprising has been Verizon's fiber-based FIOS network which launched with speeds barely faster than its competition. The company only raised speeds in locales when the cable companies had a plant strong enough to compete.

That ends today with Verizon offering a 50 meg down/20 meg up package across its footprint and declaring: "We've already had successful trials of the 100-megabit home, which will be a reality faster than anybody thinks."

Cable operator Comcast, which competes with Verizon over large swaths of its northeastern territory, "is upgrading its network to offer download speeds of 50 mbps in 20 percent of its service area by the end of the year. Other cable companies are following suit." (I think we can guess that that 20% will be located in the areas it shares with Verizon.)

Maybe the bandwidth logjam is being broken by Verizon's fiber--at least in Verizon's service area.

I have no doubt that Cox will be able to respond to Lafayette's fiber in a similar fashion. Cox is, recent history demonstrates, "the Verizon of cable"—the corporation has been willing to spend on substantial network capacity upgrades that the other cable companies have not (though Cox didn't quite have the vision to rebuild New Orleans' ruined cable plan with fiber). Cox will probably have the ability to raise its speeds at least substantially in Lafayette. The question, though, is whether it will be willing to make Lafayette a special case and offer pricing decreases and speed increases in Lafayette that it does not offer in Baton Rouge and across the rest of its chiefly Southern footprint.

It will be interesting to watch.

Update 11:30 PM 6/18/08. According to Broadband Reports the full story is even more interesting: Not only is FIOS going to offer 50 megs across the board they are also going to offer a SYMMETRICAL 20/20 meg tier. And they are bumping up the speed on all their tiers for free. They are using their fiber network to assert their superiority in ways that the cable folks just can't match. Interesting times indeed.

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