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16 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | JULY 2014 FTTH DEPLOYMENTS Large Companies Plan Gigabit Rollouts The gigabit race is heating up. After Google Fiber and others demonstrated the allure of 1 Gbps Internet access and the capacity to provide such service on a large scale, large U.S. providers are developing plans to roll out similar services. By Masha Zager / Broadband Communities N early four years ago, Chattanooga became the "Gig City" when its municipal broadband company introduced 1 Gbps Internet service, and young entrepreneurs focked to the city. Te following year, Google selected Kansas City, Kan. – and, ultimately, the whole Kansas City metropolitan area – as the site of its frst gigabit fber network, and young entrepreneurs began to move there, too. Other communities took note. Many whose municipal utilities, like Chattanooga's, operated FTTH networks upped their Internet speeds to gigabit levels. Cities that did not have municipal utilities or were otherwise constrained from building their own fber networks started to issue RFPs for gigabit services, either individually or as part of the multicity Gig.U initiative. Tey also began to look at ways to reduce fber deployment costs by making municipal assets more readily available, streamlining processes and eliminating unnecessary regulations. Incumbent providers also took note, not only of the threat of competitive overbuilds (Google isn't the only overbuilder, though it may be the only one whose scale can rival the major incumbents) but also of consumer demand for ultra-broadband services and cities' cooperative stance. In addition, they saw that the economics of residential fber deployment had changed over the last few years. Incumbent telephone and cable companies have built out thousands of miles of fber to serve enterprises and cell towers, and some of that fber is well positioned to serve residential neighborhoods. As well, new techniques, such as microtrenching, have made fber deployment less expensive in densely populated areas. THE RACE IS ON With the Kansas City build underway, Google announced a new gigabit fber build in Austin, Texas; it also bought and began to enhance the existing FTTH network in Provo, Utah. Shortly afterward, two Tier 1 telephone companies launched their frst salvos. CenturyLink introduced residential gigabit services in parts of Omaha, Neb., and Las Vegas, and AT&T unveiled its U-verse with GigaPower service in Austin. GigaPower currently provides 300 Mbps service but is scheduled to upgrade this year to symmetrical 1 Gbps. Te major cable providers, in turn, began increasing their maximum download speeds to 300 Mbps or 500 Mbps in selected markets. (Tose oferings, which would have been remarkable only a few years ago, are not even included in this roundup.) Te gigabit wars intensifed in spring 2014 when, within a short time, Google announced plans to negotiate gigabit rollouts in nine metropolitan areas, AT&T announced similar plans for 25 metropolitan areas, and