When Google announced in 2013 that Austin is the next city to receive its super high speed Internet, it was done with plenty of pomp and circumstance. AT&T followed with its own push to bring ultra fast Internet services to town, attempting to appeal to Austinites by co-opting local street art in online ads and running commercials with beloved musicians.
However, it seems that multinational telecom giants Google and AT&T will be left in the dust by a dark horse in the race to bring one gigabit per second Internet to Austin. San Marcos, Texas based Grande Communications announced Monday, February 10 that it will be the first to provide the much ballyhooed gigabit service to Central Texas — possibly to a neighborhood near you.
Dubbed Power 1000, the new gigabit service from Grande is promising to roll out on Tuesday, February 18 and is priced at $64.99 per month. Before you pick up the phone to pre-order the new service as someone’s Valentine’s Day gift, you’ll have to check to see if you’re in the right neighborhoods. Power 1000 will start out in parts of the Belmont, Rosedale, Bryker Woods, Pemberton Heights, Tarrytown, Oakmont Heights and Old Enfield neighborhoods in West Austin, presenting a more centralized list of neighborhoods than what AT&T announced for the early access to its GigaPower service.
Even if you don’t reside in the more affluent side of town, Grande is promising some upgrades for the rest of us. Beginning on March 4, all Austin residents using Grande Internet services will receive speed upgrades for no additional charges. Customers receiving less than 15 Mbps will be boosted to 15 Mbps, 30 Mbps will boost to Power 50 Mbps, and 65 Mbps will go up to 75 Mbps.
Grande's not relying only on speed to win over new customers, but also its policies regarding the new high-speed services. It promises to never share customer’s personal information or track online activity to sell to any company or organization, a practice that AT&T has been criticized for with its Austin customers.
With Google Fiber and AT&T GigaPower still only tentatively slated to begin service in the middle of this year, Grande has easily jumped out of the gate in the heated high-speed Internet race. Time will tell if the strategy of jumping the gun can help Grande to position itself as a top local competitor to take on the mega-corporations.