SEATTLE (June 24, 2013) – Gigabit Squared today unveiled residential pricing for the ultra-high-speed fiber-to-the-home broadband network it plans to launch locally in 2014. The Gigabit Squared fiber network will initially be made available to neighborhoods located within the University of Washington West Campus District, First Hill, Capitol Hill and Central Area of Seattle as part of a program called Gigabit Squared Seattle.
“We are excited about the limitless possibilities our network can bring to the residents located in these areas and are confident that the affordability and high speed performance of our fiber network will be well received,” said Mark Ansboury, president of Gigabit Squared. He added, “We will be providing our customers with significantly greater speed and accessibility than what’s out there today for about the same price…a true value. This will be backed by a level of customer service that will surpass anything anyone has ever experienced before.”
Gigabit Squared’s fiber broadband services will be 50 to 1,000 times faster than typical cable modem or DSL Internet access services. Unlike most Internet access services, Gigabit Squared’s offerings will be symmetrical (equal upstream and downstream data rates) to enable interactive services that require two-way sharing of video, audio, images, and other large files in real time.
“We’re one step closer to bringing gigabit speed broadband to Seattle,” said Mayor Mike McGinn. “We are leveraging our new public-private partnership with the University of Washington and Gigabit Squared to help Seattle compete in the global economy. I’m excited to see how our residents and businesses can innovate with this new infrastructure.”
Gigabit Squared’s simplified fiber network pricing plans for Seattle will be structured as follows:
- Installation Charge: Installation charges will be waived for customers signing a one-year contract for 100 Mbps service or greater. Otherwise, a $350 installation fee is required.
- Service Plan Options:
- 5 Mbps download/1 Mbps upload: No charge for 60 months
- 5/1 Mbps services are transferrable to new renters or owners
- After 60 months renters or owners can convert to a 10 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload service plan for only $10 per month
- 100 Mbps download/100 Mbps upload for $45 per month
- No installation charge with one- year contract
- 1000 download/1000 upload Mbps for $80 per month
- No installation charge with one-year contract
Since the launch of the Gigabit Squared Seattle website in December, thousands of Seattle residents have already expressed an interest in the service. Ansboury commented, “We will be announcing a simple sign-up process next month that will make it easy for people to sign up for the service that best meets their individual needs. This will help us prioritize the neighborhood rollout schedule. We can’t wait to make this available to as many residents as possible and look forward to our initial program’s success so we can quickly expand into other areas of Seattle.”
About Gigabit Squared
Gigabit Squared helps people experience a better quality of life by connecting them to an unconstrained gateway of information, people and services. We do this by providing superior digital products and services that enable people and communities to sustainably grow and prosper together.
We are a digital economic development corporation specializing in the planning, implementation and rollout of IT-enabled infrastructure in core markets across the USA. The Gigabit Squared team has been responsible for developing and acquiring large-scale infrastructure projects through government, quasi-government, private, and non-profit sources. Visit us online to learn more at www.gigabitsquared.com and Gigabit Squared Seattle at www.gigabitseattle.com.
SEATTLE – The information superhighway is about to get faster in the city of Seattle.
“What we’re trying to do is change the experience,” said Mark Ansboury, President of Gigabit Squared. The company plans to offer “Ultra High Speed Fiber Network” service by the first quarter of 2014. “Seattle is one of those cities that we feel is most ready.”
The network is backed by the City of Seattle and the University of Washington, which signed off on a deal last year to transfer 550 miles of “dead fiber” lines already installed in the city. Ansboury is paying the city an undisclosed sum to deliver service to residential homes.
He says GB2 will offer 1000 Mbps, or about 50 times faster than a regular residential service. He says initial costs will be $80 a month and the installation fee will be waived if customers sign a year-long contract. In comparison, Comcast’s top offered service of 105 Mbps is $114 a month. Century Link offers 5 Mbps at $29.95 a month as well as 100 Mbps starting at $119 per month.
It has been almost two decades since @Home Network offered perhaps the first broadband plan in the country. It was right after the 1996 Telecommunications Act allowed cable companies to get into the business. Milo Medin, one of @Home’s co-founders, still recalls the price of the pioneering service, offered to residents of Fremont, Calif.: $34.95 a month — $51.85 in today’s money — for a maximum speed of 10 megabits per second. The memory inspires not a little frustration about the Internet’s progress since then: 17 years after @Home plugged in its first customer, the residents of Kansas City pay Time Warner, their local cable company, $46.90 for a 3 Mbps connection and $55.40 for a top speed of 15 Mbps.
“At that time the United States was a leader in broadband,” Mr. Medin recalled. Today, he lamented, “I don’t see anybody arguing that the U.S. is anything but mediocre.”
These days, Mr. Medin leads Google’s effort to deploy superspeedy 1 gigabit-per-second networks — 100 times faster than the 10 Mbps plans @Home introduced long ago — in several cities around the country, starting in Kansas City last fall.
Most of the nation’s innovation today relies on a broadband connection. Yet broadband seems to be the one area of the information economy that has not followed Moore’s law, named after the proposition by Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore that the power of digital devices would roughly double every couple of years, radically expanding their capability and driving down their cost.
“Internet access is constraining what people can do,” Mr. Medin said. “This puts American companies at a disadvantage. It puts Google in a place where we can’t innovate as well as we could.”
President Obama has made much of this deficit. In 2010 his administration introduced a National Broadband Plan that promised a path of rapid deployment of high-speed networks, offering 100 million households affordable access to connections of 100 Mbps or more.
“We will not succeed by standing still, or even moving at our current pace,” Julius Genachowski, Mr. Obama’s first chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, told Congress at the time. Yet most Americans are still stuck in the Internet slow lane, far from the frontier of our possibilities. And the main roadblock remains much the same as it has been for years: a lack of competition.
Last week, President Obama nominated Tom Wheeler, a veteran lobbyist for the telecommunications industry, to succeed Mr. Genachowski. He has his job cut out for him: achieving fast universal broadband requires figuring out how to shake up the oligopolies that run the nation’s high-speed Internet.
There has been progress lately. The F.C.C. points out that more fiber-optic cable has been laid in the United States than in Europe in the last two years. According to Akamai, the nation’s average broadband download speed is about 7.4 Mbps per second, about twice as fast as it was two years ago. This puts the nation in eighth place in the world, up from 22nd in 2009.
Still, speeds in the United States remain behind those in the world’s most connected countries, like South Korea, Japan and Switzerland. Equally importantly, American broadband, at an average price of $6.14 per Mbps, is more expensive than in most other developed nations.
This has little to do with the actual cost of moving bits. The price of transporting data wholesale across the Internet has fallen to about $1.57 per Mbps, down from $1,200 when Mr. Medin was helping start @Home. And high prices discourage Americans from opting for higher speeds. Though 10 Mbps broadband is available in 90 percent of homes around the country, and four out of five homes have access to 100 Mbps service, last year only 28 percent of homes that had access to broadband at a speed above 6 Mbps actually bought it.
What’s most worrying is that the handful of companies offering high-speed broadband to American consumers may have little incentive to expand their networks, increase their speeds and lower their prices.
According to the F.C.C.’s latest calculation, under one-third of American homes are in areas where at least two wireline companies offer broadband speeds of 10 Mbps or higher. Even including the spottier service offered by wireless providers, which tends to come with strict data caps limiting use, the share is less than half.
That means that in most American neighborhoods, consumers are stuck with a broadband monopoly. And monopolies don’t strive to offer the best, cheapest service. Rather, they use speed as a tool to discriminate by price — coaxing consumers who are willing to pay for high-speed broadband into more costly and profitable tiers.
Blair Levin, who headed the F.C.C.’s broadband initiative until three years ago and is now at the Aspen Institute, traces the roots of broadband’s limits to telephone companies’ decision, back in the 1990s, not to match cable’s costly investments in fiber, trusting that their DSL service would be an adequate competitor.
But DSL couldn’t follow cable past 3 Mbps. Verizon did eventually get on the ball — investing in its FiOS fiber network, which is expected to reach 17 million homes when it is completed. But that’s the exception.
“Given cable’s lead and its ability to counterstrike if the telcos upgrade, the telcos don’t have a winning strategy that involves a better network,” Mr. Levin said, suggesting that the industries will focus on drawing profit from existing networks rather than investing much in expanding them. “Both cable and the telcos are better off with a harvest strategy, and both sides would lose if one starts an upgrade cycle.”
The preferred strategy seems to involve more cooperation than competition. In 2011, Verizon tried to cobble together agreements with the nation’s major cable firms to jointly market each others’ services — offering itself as the wireless complement to cable’s wireline plans. It was foiled only because the Justice Department slapped the deals down as anticompetitive.
Mr. Genachowski contends that broadband deployment is on the right track. He points to the growing number of high-speed broadband deployments like Google Fiber and municipal projects around the country, as well as to AT&T’s announcement that it will expand the footprint of its U-verse network — the number of homes to which service is available — to 33 million. This uses fiber part of the way and, AT&T claims, can attain up to 75 Mbps.
It probably will take an outsider like Google to transform the industry. Its assertion that it can turn a profit selling 1 Gbps service for $70 ($120 with a TV plan) offers an entirely new horizon for broadband development. It has plans under way to take the service to Austin, Tex., and Provo, Utah. And it is spurring a domino chain of investments.
“As someone who is stuck with 1 Mbps broadband at one house due to where it is located, it’s a huge inhibitor,” said Brad Feld, a longtime investor in digital start-ups from Boulder, Colo., who bought a residence in Kansas City’s first plugged-in neighborhood to house inspired entrepreneurs free. “At this point I have no idea what the breakthrough applications will be, but I look forward to experimenting with some stuff and figuring it out.” Several cities, including Chattanooga, Tenn., and Seattle, are starting their own gigabit plans, potentially forcing the dominant cable and phone companies to respond. Shortly after Google’s fiber started operating in Kansas City, Time Warner increased speeds across the city, offering its first 100 Mbps service in the country. After Google said last month it would build a 1 Gbps network in Austin, AT&T said it would build one too.
Yet the challenge remains: monopolies have a high instinct for self-preservation. And more than half a dozen states have passed legislation limiting municipalities from building public broadband networks in competition with private businesses. South Carolina passed its version last year. A similar bill narrowly failed in Georgia.
Supporting these bills, of course, are the nation’s cable and telephone companies.
Correction: May 9, 2013
Because of an editing error, the Economic Scene column on Wednesday, about the United States’ lag in high-speed broadband, misstated the number of homes served by AT&T, which is expanding its U-verse high-speed network. It plans to make the network available to 33 million homes, an increase of 8.5 million; it does not currently serve 100 million homes.
By EDUARDO PORTER
Published: May 7, 2013
March 12, 2013
Last week we had the opportunity to speak with a local community group at the Beacon Hill Public Library. The North Beacon Hill Council invited Gigabit Squared to tell the residents about the new Gigabit Squared Seattle network – and the exciting, affordable broadband connectivity that’s on the way. For many “legacy” reasons, the infrastructure in this Seattle neighborhood is worse than most, will service availability currently at less than one meg.
As Gigabit Squared Seattle is still in the engineering phase, the specific boundaries for Beacon Hill coverage have not been set – but with more than 75 citizens in the room, it was clear that the demand and anticipation for service is high. Before the meeting, Beacon Hill was in the top third of demand. Word travels fast and demand in this area is only climbing. Whether you are in Beacon Hill or any of the other demonstration neighborhoods, make sure you signup today to help ensure you receive gigabit-speed Internet.
Click to Download Beacon Hill Meeting Handout