FEBRUARY 13, 2014 — Central Texas’ own Grande Communications announced Monday they’ll be stepping up to the gigabit plate and entering the fiber competition along with Google, Time Warner, and AT&T. The San Marcos-based smalltime telecommunications company has begun signing up its customers for one-gigabit service, which will launch in March, 2014. The announcement was Grande's first indication that they were ramping up Internet speeds. But beating Google to the scene has been their game plan all along. “Once competition in the Austin area heated up, they knew they were nimble and able to do things faster, and made a conscious effort to beat Google,” said Grande Publicist Casey Sherman.
The service will initially be available to many of the homes already wired to Grande’s services in the Belmont, Rosedale, Bryker Woods, Pemberton Heights, Tarrytown, Oakmont Heights, and Old Enfield neighborhoods. Expansion into their other service areas is contingent upon demand. Eventually, Grande also plans to expand gigabit service to San Antonio and San Marcos, though no timeline has been released. Like Google Fiber, Grande will also be using fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) technology, which replaces copper and coaxial connections with optical fiber networks. According to Grande, the vast majority of the home installations will be aerial, which means Grande won’t be digging up anyone’s yard. Grande will price gigabit services at $65 a month with a $20 installation fee.
Compared to AT&T’s $70 a month gigabit rate and Google’s initial $300 installation fee, Grande is boasting the lowest prices for gigabit speed. Though their service will remain unavailable to large swaths of the city for the foreseeable future, Grande has a decent enough reputation among its users—its 2.5 Yelp rating (out of a possible 5) is healthier, at least, than AT&T U-Verse and Time Warner (with respective Yelp scores of 2 and 1.5). Google has yet to release monthly rates for its fiber service, and still maintains its mid-2014 launch date along with AT&T. By Brandon Mulder AustinPost.com