I Now Can Buy a Gigabit High Speed Access Service, But Won't Do So: Here's Why

Gigabit high speed access is a good thing, most might agree. But actual consumer behavior--inclding mine--might be quite different than some expect, when gigabit and 100-Mbps services are available, and people really have to make choices with financial implications.

For years, the fastest speed I could buy was about 20 Mbps, in Denver, even if other neighborhoods had been upgraded to 40 Mbps. The retail offer wasn't quite so good, as the preferable prices could only be gotten when high speed access was bundled with a voice line, a product I have no use for.

That now has changed. I now can actually buy either gigabit access or 100 Mbps from CenturyLink.

CenturyLink in 2014 said it would bring gigabit high speed access to 16 cities across the United States.  Some have questioned how widespread the service footprint would be, or the pace of upgrades.

Quietly, it seems, CenturyLink has been upgrading networks, including mine. 

In Denver, 16 neighborhoods seem to have been upgraded. In addition to gigabit services, customers also can buy 100 Mbps services.

In my own neighborhood, a gigabit will cost $110 a month, guaranteed for a year. The 100-Mbps service costs $70 a month, with the price guaranteed for a year. The 40-Mbps service, which I was told in 2013 was not available in my neighborhood, costs $30 a month, guaranteed for a year. All those prices are for stand-alone service, with no phone service.

Both the price-value and other terms and conditions are as good as I have been offered at any time over the past decade.

Now here’s the “bad news.” Having just experienced a speed upgrade from Comcast to 105 Mbps, (with consistent speed over time, of 75 Mbps)…..wait for it….I cannot easily detect, as a “dumb end user,” the benefit.

Let me say that again: after an upgrade from typical speeds of 15 Mbps to 75 Mbps, I cannot really tell the difference.

I wish I could say something noticeable happened. It has not.

That is going to be an issue, eventually. Line speed really doesn’t directly improve end user experience as much as one might envision, at least when there are not contending users sharing the line.

Oddly enough, despite waiting so long for 100 Mbps, to say nothing of a gigabit, and being able to buy both services, I am choosing not to by a gigabit. I can. I just don’t think it will provide any incremental value over 105 Mbps.

Shocking, I realize. It is surprising. But so far, I cannot tell the difference between the old 15 Mbps and the new 105 Mbps. And for that reason, I will not be upgrading to a gig. I could, but why?
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