GigaMonster Takes a Bite Out of ISPs

Fiber-fed buildouts underway by AT&T and Google represent competitive threats to cable’s broadband business, but additional pressure is starting to be applied by a relatively new player that is setting its sights on multiple-dwelling units and apartment buildings in several U.S. markets.

That company, called GigaMonster, is in full attack mode, with a plan to expand in Denver, this spring, following up on its initial forays into cities such as Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Houston and Dallas, Texas; Los Angeles; Memphis and Nashville, Tenn.; Phoenix, Ariz.; and San Francisco.

GigaMonster has been quietly constructing fiber networks in those cities, but the Denver launch announcement “is the coming-out party for our company,” Bill Dodd, GigaMonster’s CEO, said.

The company’s game plan is to connect MDUs to its metro fiber rings (via a mix of its own dark fiber and fiber acquired from others) with dedicated capacity starting at 10 Gigabits per second that can be ramped up from there.

“All we have to do is change the optics,” Dodd said. “We build a massive freeway of bandwidth to each community that we serve.”

Depending on the arrangement, GigaMonster inks retail deals in which it’s the exclusive provider or competing with an incumbent, while others are bulk deals in which GigaMonster sells service to the community partner and the service is built into the residents’ rent.

About 99% of GigaMonster’s deployments are in the multifamily high-rise and mid-rise category, with a small number of deployments in gated and private-land areas that aren’t saddled with rights-of-way issues. In Denver, Dodd said, GigaMonster has some deals at “various stages in negotiation.” Sky House Developments, which operates in several markets, has already signed on with GigaMonster for its Denver expansion. GigaMonster hasn’t set pricing for Denver yet, but in other markets its service ranges from 30 Megabits per second to 1 Gbps for $39 to $109 per month.

GigaMonster’s emergence will be met with some resistance from incumbent providers. Comcast, the primary MSO in Denver, announced last November that Xfinity Communities, its service tailored for MDUs launched in 2014, serves more than 1 million multi-family residences in 37 states.

That program delivers broadband, X1 video service, WiFi, and home security and automation services using fiber-to-the-building and fiber-to-the-unit architectures. Charter Communications, meanwhile, is applying more resources toward the MDU segment via its recently rebranded Spectrum Community Solutions service.

Early on, GigaMonster’s offering centers on broadband; Dodd said the company will soon announce some video partnerships, but did not elaborate on who might be involved.

In the meantime, GigaMonster has been focused on delivering a solid connection to over-the-top (OTT) services with “direct routing” to the servers of some of those providers.

“We have dozens of peering relationships; we’re working on caching relationships,” Dodd said.

Per the company’s Denver launch announcement, it has peering deals with Netflix, YouTube and Amazon.

Founded in 2013, San Francisco-based GigaMonster has about 200 employees.