Suddenlink Revs Up for Texas Broadband Showdown

Suddenlink Communications, faced with increased competition from AT&T and the possibility of future entanglements with Google Fiber, has launched an upgrade in two Texas towns near the techsavvy city of Austin that will pump out speeds of 300 Megabits per second downstream and 15 Mbps upstream.

The speed upgrades, which roughly triple the MSO’s previous high-end tier of 107 Mbps downtown and 5 Mbps upstream, have been introduced in the communities of Leander and Pflugerville, with plans to extend access to nearby Georgetown later this summer.

Suddenlink is tapping its existing DOCSIS 3.0 platform to deliver the new, faster speeds. While the latest state-of-the-art D3 modems can bond enough channels to produce maximum downstream bursts of about 1 Gigabit per second, the next-generation DOCSIS 3.1 platform will target multi-Gigabit capacities.

Suddenlink is pitching the new tier, called Internet 300, for $65 per month, whether it’s purchased as a standalone service or bundled with other offerings. By comparison, Suddenlink’s 107-Meg service is $55.00 per month.

Like its other tiers, the new, speedier one is governed by the MSO’s usage-based data policy. Suddenlink confi rmed that the new 300-Mbps service caps monthly usage at 500 Gigabytes per month before customers are subject to a $10 charge for each additional bucket of 50 GB of data. (Customers aren’t billed for exceeding their monthly allowance until the third time they go over the limit.)

The threshold on the new 300-Mbps tier is a sizable step above Suddenlink’s other broadband offerings. Residential customers who get maximum download speeds of 50 Mbps or 107 Mbps are paired with a monthly usage allowance of 350 GB, according to the MSO’s latest broadband-usage policy.

Suddenlink has not announced when it expects to introduce the new 300-Mbps offering outside of the initial set of markets in Texas. “We are actively working on those plans, but for competitive reasons, won’t publicly disclose a timeline,” a Suddenlink spokesman said via email.

But Suddenlink is using its upgrade to take a jab at new and coming fi ber-based competition, noting the new 300-Mbps service is being offered across the markets rather than to smaller pockets within a market area.

Among recent examples in Texas, AT&T has begun to roll out its fi ber-based U-verse With GigaPower service in the Austin area, starting off with symmetrical speeds of 300 Mbps, with plans to hit 1 Gbps by mid- 2014. Google Fiber plans to start connecting homes in Austin later this year. Both AT&T and Google Fiber are using a demand-based model to determine which neighborhoods will get access.

“Based on public reports and additional research, it appears AT&T U-verse has cherry-picked where it will offer its service, while Google Fiber is nowhere to be found,” Michael Naumann, Suddenlink’s senior director of operations, said in a statement. “In contrast, we’re making our 300-Meg service available to 100% of the residential areas we serve in these communities.”