Verizon, known for wireless dominance, is jacking up the speeds of its home internet service along the East Coast.
Its new Fios Gigabit Connection service will approach download speeds of 1-gigabit-per-second, nearly matching the service that Google Fiber debuted in Kansas City in late 2012.
Years before Google announced it would wire home customers for broadband that previously had been reserved for entire college campuses and other large institutions, Verizon in 2005 moved across several markets building a network of fiber-optic lines that reached directly to homes.
In 2010, faced with daunting construction costs, Verizon halted its expansion. While its internet speeds far exceeded national averages at the time, they did not meet the gigabit speeds Google Fiber would sell a few years later.
Google Fiber, like Verizon, ran into steep construction costs. In October, it halted its expansion to new markets and slowed installation in the cities where it had begun selling the service.
While Google Fiber is still connecting some homes in the Kansas City market, it told thousands earlier this year that it could no longer promise them they’d eventually get piped into its fiber-optic system. Instead, the company says it’s exploring new technology that would replace fiber-optic cables with fixed wireless signals as a way to more cheaply bring broadband to homes.
The new Verizon gigabit speeds — actually a tad shy, with downloads of 940 megabits per second and uploads of 880 Mbps — chip away at Kansas City’s distinction as one of the few places in the country where such speeds can be bought by residential customers.
But AT&T, in this market and others, has been increasingly offering gigabit hookups.
What’s more, the upgrading of the New York; New Jersey; Philadelphia; Richmond, Va.; Hampton Roads, Va.; Boston; Providence; and Washington, D.C., areas in Verizon’s gigabit territories could ultimately make Google Fiber’s service more valuable in Kansas City; Atlanta; Salt Lake City; Provo, Utah; Charlotte, N.C.; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
So far, applications that rely on such superfast broadband have yet to emerge. Largely, consumers have put the speeds to work streaming music and movies without the buffering that comes with slower connections.
But developers haven’t created computer programs — say, a better form of teleconferencing or other long-distance collaboration applications — that work only at the highest speeds.
Verizon’s announcement Monday that it would boost its top hard-wired internet speeds could add millions of homes to the gigabit universe. That, in turn, could give software developers added incentive to invest in gigabit-reliant applications.
The company will charge $70 to $80 a month (the lower price reserved for new customers), or roughly what Google Fiber and AT&T charge for slightly faster service.
Verizon cranked up the speeds using an existing network by using new firmware and diagnostic tools, reports FierceTelecom.
“While it will take time to assess how much an effect the new (gigabit) offering will have on Verizon’s Fios internet base, the service provider remains challenged by cable operators like Comcast and Charter” that have speed increases in the works, FireceTelecom said.
Today, Verizon’s Fios (the company’s acronym for fiber-optic service) territory covers 14 million homes, of which about 5.7 million homes subscribe to the service.
“No other provider can match the speeds offered by Fios at the scale” of Verizon, reported TechRepublic. But, the website said, “the biggest issue for Verizon is its timing. Google Fiber and AT&T have had established gigabit offerings for some time, and if it doesn’t market the service well, Verizon could simply be late to the party.”