1Gbps+ Broadband Services

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1Gbps+ Broadband

by Michael Gariffo

Docid: 00021385

Publication Date: 2107

Report Type: PRODUCT


Wholly the domain of industrial and education concerns just a few years ago,
one gigabit per second (1Gbps) and faster broadband speeds are now becoming more
and more widely available to businesses of all sizes as well as to the average
consumer. This report will analyze the current state of 1Gbps+ offerings in the
small business and consumer markets while also addressing the capabilities a
connection of this speed can offer subscribers.

Report Contents:

How Fast is 1Gbps?

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The easiest way to understand the actual speed involved in a 1Gbps connection
is to lay it out in the more familiar terms usually applied to digital storage
rather than transmission. To explain, 8 Megabits is the equivalent of 1
This rate of conversion essentially holds true through all prefixes, including
kilo-, giga-, tera- and so on. Although this may clarify what a 1Gbps or faster
connection can offer in numerical figures, it is a common and logical practice
to frame these speeds in terms of how quickly it can be used to download some of
the most commonly transmitted files on the Internet. Below is a list of some of
those file types, along with the necessary math needed to understand the scope
of the speeds being offered by 1Gbps or greater service providers.

  • MP3 – The most common type of music file format and one of
    the most frequently transferred file types on the Web. Although the size of
    an MP3 can vary greatly depending on the audio quality of the file as well
    as the length of the recorded music, 3.5 megabytes is a well-used
    industry average for amount of data someone downloading an MP3 can expect to

    • 3.5 Megabytes (MB) = 28 Megabits (Mb)
    • 1 Gigabit (Gb) / 28Mb= 35.7
    • Users can download an average MP3 file in approximately 1/35 of a
  • Uncompressed Music – While most consumers are completely satisfied
    with the audio quality of MP3’s compressed music, some audiophile listeners
    prefer uncompressed or "lossless" versions of their music. These
    files are considerably larger, often reaching 50MB in size or even greater.

    • 50MB = 400Mb
    • 1Gb / 400Mb = 2.5
    • User can download an average uncompressed music file in just under 1/2
      of a second.
  • CD ROM – Most of the software companies in the world have long
    since moved onto DVDs or even Blu-Rays for optical disc storage. However,
    the standard 750MB that a traditional CD-ROM could contain remains something
    of an industry standard for providing scale to a given amount of data.

    • 750MB = 6 Gigabits (Gb)
    • 1Gb * 6Gb = 6
    • User can download a full CD-ROM in 6 seconds
  • DVD – The replacement for CD-ROMS is generally associated with
    serving as a platform for delivering movies. Although these discs can also
    be used for software and digital storage, they are all generally produced to
    hold approximately 4GB worth of data.

    •  4 Gigabytes (GB) = 32Gb
    • 1Gb * 32Gb = 32
    • User can download a DVD worth of data or a DVD quality film in 32
  • HD Movie – Once companies began selling digital media
    files with no physical storage component, the size of HD movies was allowed
    to expand beyond what a DVD. The average HD movie varies just as greatly in
    size as the average MP3 file. However, for our purposes, the average size of
    12GB will be used.

    • 12GB = 96Gb
    • 1Gb * 96Gb = 96
    • User can download a full-length HD movie in about 96 seconds, or just
      over one and a half minutes.
  • Blu-Ray – Like DVDs before them, Blu-Ray discs are
    primarily thought of as a storage medium for movies. They offer somewhat
    greater flexibility than their predecessor, ranging from 20GB to 25GB. For
    the purposes of this comparison, the high end of 25GB will be used.

    • 25GB = 200Gb
    • 1Gb * 200Gb = 200
    • User can download a full-length Blu-Ray film, or a Blu-Ray ROM worth
      of data in 200 seconds, or approximately 3 and 1/3 minutes.
  • 4K Movies – Among the largest files regularly transferred on the
    Web today, 4K movies are just starting to reach considerable usage
    levels. This level of definition, often referred to as "Ultra HD" or
    "Quad HD," literally provides four times as many vertical and
    horizontal pixels as 1080p HD programming. This massive bump in the number
    of pixels per frame of video results in file sizes as large as 100GB or

    • 100GB = 800Gb
    • 1Gb * 800Gb = 800
    • User can download an average 4K movie in 800 seconds, or approximately
      13 and 1/3 minutes. 

Of course, the types and sizes of files transferred by the average user will
vary just as greatly as the usage habits of those users. However, the above list
should provide a solid mental framework under which the reader can understand
the speeds and transfer rates associated with services offering 1Gbps or faster

Service Descriptions and Analysis

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This section will examine the largest and
most well-known of the 1Gbps+ broadband services currently available in the US.
It will analyze each entrant’s transfer speeds, service area (which markets it
is available in), pricing, and any other pertinent facts for those looking to
acquire one of the fastest broadband services available today. 

Figure 1. Google Fiber

Google Fiber 

Although Google was not the first company to launch a domestic network
capable of data transfer rates reaching 1 gigabit per second, it was the first
to do so at multiple locations and with the average consumer as its primary
target demographic. Like many Google products, Google Fiber began its life as an
experiment. The company launched a competition in 2010 during which towns and cities
could fill out an entry form to be the first one equipped with its fiber-based
broadband service. The company revealed that it would be launching the service
with 1Gbps symmetrical download/upload speeds, wowing many consumers that were
literally getting 1/100th of that speed on the 10Mbps systems that much of the country
had topped
out at in 2010. The subsequent flood of entries included some now-infamous
moments in pop culture, including the temporary renaming of Topeka, Kansas, to
Google, Kansas. It also reached a scale so large that it caused Google to push
its decision back to 2011.

Although Google did launch a small, invite-only pilot program in Palo Alto,
California, prior to making its decision, Kansas City, Missouri, proved to be the
winner when the company finally picked a home for its first public 1Gbps
rollout. This initial launch was followed by an expansion to adjacent suburbs
over the next three years, as well as a launch in Texas and the acquisition of
an in-place fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network in Provo, Utah. Multiple launches
have occurred since this time, including markets in Georgia, California, and elsewhere.
While Google Fiber
may not be the largest 1Gbps network in the US today, it is among the oldest and
most well-established. That said, recent years have not been kind to
the progress of Google Fiber. The division has been downsized considerably by
Google as costs mount and regulatory difficulties in installing networking
hardware continue to delay new rollouts. Maybe believe the company will soon
shift the focus of the entire division to alternative delivery methods, like the
fixed wireless broadband offered by Webpass, a company acquired by Google which
offers 1Gbps speeds over point-to-point radio installations, rather than fiber.
However, Google itself has, so far, refused to acknowledge any plans to
discontinue the Fiber brand, aside from the quiet cancellation of some planned
market rollouts.

  • Transfer Speeds
    previously stated, Google Fiber provides symmetrical 1Gbps (1,000Mb per
    second) and 2Gbps services. This means that users can download and upload at identical
  • Service Area – Google Fiber is still
    very much an expanding service, at least according to Google. That said, the
    company's Web site no longer stratifies the cities it lists into the
    three tiers that it previously used: Current
    Fiber City, Upcoming Fiber City, and Potential Fiber City. The first group
    included all locations where Google Fiber is now available to the public
    while the second group included any cities where work was under way
    to launch Google’s network. The last group encompassed any remaining towns
    where Google was interested in installing its hardware, but had not yet
    secured the necessary agreements to move forward with actual work. The
    cities listed below are now the sole geographies listed by the company.

    • Current Fiber Cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Austin,
      Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Huntsville, Alabama; Kansas City, Missouri (including 16
      surrounding municipalities); Kansas City, Kansas; Miami, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee;
      Oakland and Orange County, California; San Antonio, Texas; San
      Diego and San Francisco, California; Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah;
      Seattle, Washington; The Triangle, North Carolina; West Des Moines,
    • Upcoming Fiber Cities: None at the time of writing.
    • Potential Fiber Cities: None at the time of writing.
  • Plans and Pricing – Google Fiber is
    somewhat unusual in that it specifically tailors its plans and pricing for
    each service area of its network. The full 1Gbps plans offered by Google fiber are detailed below.

    • Gigabit Internet – This is a
      broadband-only plan, which offers the aforementioned 1Gbps symmetrical
      speeds as well as 1 Terabyte (TB) of cloud-based storage on Google
      Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. Pricing for this plan in all current
      Google fiber markets begins at $70 per month. A 2Gbps plan is now also
      available in select locations for $100 per month.

Figure 2. CenturyLink

CenturyLink Fiber Gigabit

The history of CenturyLink’s 1Gbps offering may
not be as storied or as long as Google’s, but the company has, none the less, built up one of the
country’s largest 1Gbps networks in just a few short
years. CenturyLink’s first installation took place in the form of a pilot
program in Omaha, Nebraska, in May 2013. This initial launch included some 48,000
homes and businesses and proved successful enough that the company quickly
moved to expand its 1Gbps network to other markets. A singular expansion into
Las Vegas, Nevada, was followed by a massive rollout to 16 cities and towns
across the country. Since then, CenturyLink’s expansions have slowed somewhat,
but it remains one of the largest 1Gbps providers in terms of
geographic coverage. CenturyLink also has among the strongest business-centric
portfolios of any of the providers covered here thanks to its long history of
serving as a telecom provider for commercial entities from small businesses all
the way up to massive enterprises.

  • Transfer Speeds – CenturyLink’s entire Fiber Gigabit
    network provides download speeds of 940Mbps and upload speeds of 35Mbps.
    Select Locations also have access to symmetrical 1Gbps speeds.
  • Service Area – CenturyLink maintains a list of markets
    where its 1Gbps service is offered to both residential and small business

    • Residential and Small Business
      Columbia/Jefferson City and Springfield, Missouri; Boulder and Denver, Colorado;
      Idaho Falls/ Pocatello, Idaho; La Crosse and Platville, Wisconsin; Las Vegas, Nevada; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Omaha,
      Nebraska; Orlando, Ocala/The Villages, and Fort Myers/ Cape Coral, Florida;
      Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Seattle,
      Spokane, and Tacoma, Washington. 
  • Plans and Pricing – CenturyLink offers
    its residential plan for a flat rate of $65 per month with that rate
    being guaranteed for three years if the subscriber chooses to purchase the
    service as part of one of its bundle packages. These double and triple play
    packages start at approximately
    $100 per month, depending on the subscriber’s location. Some bundle plans include
    access to CenturyLink Prism TV Service, which offers up to 320+ channels as
    well as DVR and on-demand video services. CenturyLink does not provide
    standardized pricing for the business version of its 1-Gig service and
    instead asks that potential customers contact the company to obtain pricing
    and availability information. 

Figure 3. Fiber Ready 

AT&T Fiber

AT&T first announced plans to
introduced a 100 percent fiber-based broadband service in 2013. The pilot city
chosen for the new service tier was Austin, Texas. However, unlike Google and
CenturyLink, AT&T did not offer its full 1Gbps speeds from the start.
Instead, the company opted to launch at a still-speedy 300Mbps, with plans to
ramp up to its full 1Gbps capacity at a later date. Interest in the new service
was rampant, and AT&T quickly planned expansions for its newest broadband
offering. Since then the company has continued its practice of launching most
new AT&T Fiber sites at 300Mbps and later upgrading to their full
speeds. Although the company is still very much in an expansion phase at the time of writing, it has quickly grown to match
CenturyLink’s geographic scope, if not its business
coverage. Going forward, AT&T has promised to continue expanding its Fiber service through the next several years, as well as intending
to add an additional two million customer locations to those plans. If AT&T
accomplishes these goals, it may very well grow to maintain the largest 1Gbps broadband
network in the US. 

  • Transfer Speeds – AT&T Fiber, at its full speed, offers
    the same symmetrical 1Gbps speeds as the aforementioned services. However,
    AT&T has, so far, launched most new markets at a reduced 300Mbps, with plans to
    upgrade those services to their full speed at a later date. The company has
    gradually come through on its promise within many early markets, but it shows no signs of slowing its upgrading process. 

  • Service Area – AT&T Fiber is available in over 100
    metro areas, primarily in the Southeast, Midwest, and California . Some of the most important active
    markets include Atlanta
    and Augusta,
    Georgia; Austin, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Birmingham, Alabama; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago, Illinois;
    Cleveland, Ohio; Bakersfield, Cupertino, Fresno, San Diego, and San Francisco, California; Dallas/Forth Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; Kansas
    City, Missouri; Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee;
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Orlando, Florida; and
    Raleigh/Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As stated above, AT&T’s
    expansion plans continue to grow, with more than 100 undisclosed cities
    also currently under consideration for the company’s next fiber-based

  • Plans and Pricing – Prices for AT&T Fiber start at $60,
    while monthly fees for its bundled services begin at $100 for a double play
    plan including U-Verse Voice, with a triple play plan that includes TV
    services raising that price to $120 per month. Additional programming and
    extraneous services can also be added to any of the aforementioned plans for
    an additional fee. AT&T does not publicize its small business pricing for
    Fiber accounts, but instead asks that potential customers contact the
    company. AT&T also now includes a free HBO Max subscription with all
    1Gbps plans.

Figure 4. Comcast

Comcast Gigabit Internet

Comcast is a more recent entry into the 1Gbps arena. However, it has quickly grown its footprint,
and is already on par with some of the more well-established competitors above.
It is also the only competitor here aside from Google to offer 2Gbps services to
those willing to pay the premium. The FTTH solution uses professionally-installed in-home hardware that each customer
must acquire before they can access the service. Thankfully, any customer
adjacent to one of Comcast’s Gigabit Internet service areas will be eligible
for the offering without the need for significant external construction
work to connect their home to Comcast’s network.

  • Transfer Speeds – Comcast offers symmetrical speeds of
    up to 2Gbps for residential and small business customers.

  • Service Area – Thanks
    to the rampant growth of Comcast’s 2Gbps network, the company’s individual
    service areas are already too numerous to list here in detail. However, it has a
    major presence in California, Washington, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Florida,
    Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon, and Massachusetts, as well as a presence in
    smaller or individual markets in Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado,
    Washington DC, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia,
    Illinois, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Nevada, and New York. 

  • Plans and Pricing – While Comcast’s 2Gbps service is
    the fastest one covered in this report, it is also, by far, the priciest,
    coming in at $299.95 per month, with 1Gbps services coming in at a much more
    reasonable $79.99 per month.

Figure 5. Fios by Verizon

FiOS Gigabit Connection

Although Verizon Communications has long been a player in the
broadband market, it was something of a late bloomer in the 1Gbps broadband
race. The company’s "gigabit" offering was only launched in 2017, and is still
just a bit slower than the competition. Although the company does plan to ramp
up its speeds, similar to AT&T, it is so far lagging behind on both download and
upload rates. That said, the brand recognition and broad service area of FiOS
are likely to help the offering see quick growth among both residential and
small business customers. Like most offerings on this list, FiOS Gigabit
Connection can be purchased as either a standalone broadband subscription, or as
part of a double/triple-play bundle.

  • Transfer Speeds – Verizon technically does
    not even currently reach the 1Gbps threshold, topping out at 940Mbps
    download and 880Mbps upload. However, the company has promised that it will
    increase these speeds in the coming years, and will exceed those offered by
    its competition. Whether or not this proves true remains to be seen.

  • Service Area – Verizon plans to make its
    Gigabit Connection tier available wherever its current FiOS broadband
    offerings are installed. This includes the following states and metro areas:
    Baltimore, Maryland; Delaware; Boston, Massachusetts; New Jersey; Albany,
    Buffalo, and Syracuse, New York; Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh,
    Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia; and
    Washington, DC.

  • Plans and Pricing – Verizon currently offers its Gigabit
    Connection plan for $79.99 per month for the first year, with TV, home
    phone, and HBO included. This increases to $84.99 for the second year, with
    a two-year agreement. Multi-Room DVR service is also included.

The Rest of the Competition

Although the providers covered here
are far and away the largest and most important players in the 1Gbps+ market,
they are by no means the only contenders. There are, of course, several smaller
and highly regional broadband providers that offer 1Gbps or faster services to
their customers. Companies like Cox Communications and Time Warner cable (prior
to its acquisition by Charter Communications) have held pilot programs in one or two cities each, with plans to
expand their offerings to additional locales at a later date. While these
programs are definitely worth watching, they do not provide anywhere near the level of
market influence as their more major counterparts seen above. 

Perhaps the most interesting
competitors for the companies listed above are the smaller, often municipal
broadband networks that have achieved 1Gbps or faster speeds across the country.
This seemingly scattered and random distribution of networks includes locations
such as Chattanooga, Tennessee; Leverett, Massachusetts; Longmont, Colorado;
Gainesville, Georgia; Burlington, Vermont; and Chanute, Kansas, and others.3 These
municipal and small private networks are often far-flung and sparsely supported
but are rapidly gaining in popularity, particularly among subscribers who are
disenchanted with the oft-loathed major telecom providers that may be the only
other alternative for high-speed Internet in their area. This trend is likely to
continue to grow, as more and more communities have shown interest in launching
their own municipal broadband service, assuming the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) once again returns to allowing it under its new leadership, after
former Chairman Ajit Pai made a name for himself as a strong opponent of not
just Net Neutrality, but any attempt to threaten ISP's abilities to dominate
local markets.4


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It is, of course, up to each individual consumer to determine what broadband speeds they
need or desire. A shopper should base decisions not on the claims of the
companies that stand to benefit from overbuying but rather on the browsing
habits of all members of their household. Does the subscriber have a large
family chock full of gamers, movie enthusiasts, and streaming music aficionados?
If so, then a 1Gbps plan might well be worth the cost for connection and
service. Conversely, if the subscriber lives with fewer people or has a family
that generally does not strain the more traditional 100Mbps, 50Mbps, or even
10Mbps plans that are available to the vast majority of the US population, then
1Gbps+ services need not apply. However, as more and more of the population
comes to exemplify the former example, expect cable and telecom providers to
continue expanding their 1Gbps offerings on a geographic basis while also
attempting to reach even higher speeds. 

Rising trends in technology such as 4K video streaming may be considered cutting-edge
and only for the technologically elite today, but the same could have been said
of streaming 1080p video just a handful of years ago. Everyone from grandparents
to toddlers now takes access to HD videos from any number of streaming services
for granted. It is hardly difficult to imagine that, in just a year or two,
those services will be clamoring to provide their viewers with 4K definition
videos and beyond. That is when the 1Gbps broadband services mentioned above may
stop seeming like an unnecessary expense and start seeming like a


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About the Author

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Michael Gariffo is an editor for Faulkner Information Services. He
tracks and writes about enterprise software and the IT services sector, as well
as telecommunications and data networking.

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