A San Marcos-based company has beaten Google Fiber and AT&T in the race to become the fastest Internet service in the Austin area.
Google and AT&T were the main competitors last fall for fiber optic cable Internet in Texas. In late February, however, San Marcos-based Grande Communications threw its hat into the fiber ring and surprised Austin residents by implementing the first gigabit Internet service months ahead of its larger counterparts.
Grande planned on joining the high speed Internet race all along, said Matthew Murphy, Grande Communications president. The company had to wait for the public to show interest before investing in the new service, he said.
“We have always made a dedicated effort to have the fastest Internet speeds in all the areas we service,” Murphy said. “Once competition in the Austin area heated up, we knew we had to be nimble and do things faster and made a conscious effort to beat Google.”
In total, Grande is a much smaller company than Google and AT&T with 150,000 customers around the state, according to a Feb. 9 Austin360.com article. The company plans to expand its gigabit service to the San Antonio and San Marcos areas, although no official timeline has been released.
“We are focusing our efforts on making sure our current 1G areas are receiving the best possible Internet experience,” Murphy said. “Then we will assess our expansion plans for other cities in Texas where we currently offer service.”
Purchased alone, Grande’s gigabit Internet service will be $65 per month with a one-time $20 installation fee, with no contract or activity monitoring, Murphy said.
The speed of one gigabit of service is 1,000 mega bites per second. This is approximately 100 times faster than the average Internet speed in the U.S., which is 7.6 Mbps, according to AT&T’s website.
According to netindex.com, Texas has an average speed of 19.6 Mbps, with Austin averaging 24.8 Mbps.
At one gigabit, a user can download 25 songs in one second, a TV show in three seconds and a high-definition movie in less than 36 seconds, according to data from AT&T.
Grande’s gigabit Internet will initially be available for approximately one-quarter of the 75,000 homes and businesses already wired in the Austin area, according to Grande’s website.
This relates to AT&T’s U-Verse with GigaPower, whose users will be upgraded to gigabit speeds this summer, according to its website. U-Verse will cost $70 per month with a one-year contract.
Guy Davidson, customer service member for AT&T, said the company started offering 300 Mbps Internet in December, which was then 20 times faster than any other Internet available. AT&T plans to upgrade its 300 Mbps customers to one gigabit per second service when it becomes available this summer, at no additional cost.
Google Fiber will be available this summer and will cost $70 per month with a one-year term required, according to its website. These fees are for Internet only and fluctuate when users add cable and phone services.
Grande, AT&T and Google have an online platform where people can register their address to help their chances of receiving the higher-speed Internet access.
“If you get enough people to sign up in your area, we’ll help get you gigabit service,” said Samie Garza, Google Fiber team member.
The companies will be using fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology, which replaces copper and coaxial connections with optical fiber networks, Murphy said. The vast majority of the home installations will be aerial, which means they will not be digging up customers’ yards.