Ziply upgrades speeds, CPE for lower-tier subs

Ziply may have just rolled out a shiny new 10-gig internet plan in April but it hasn’t forgotten about customers on its lower-end service tiers. The operator announced plans to boost speeds on its two slowest plans and proactively issue new CPE to customers who need it.

The company’s internet plans currently include 50 Mbps and 200 Mbps options as well as 1, 2, 5 and 10-gig offerings. It's customers on those first two who will get an upgrade.

As of June 1, the symmetrical 50 Mbps plan will become a symmetrical 100 Mbps offering, while the 200 Mbps plan will jump to 300 Mbps. Ziply said the upgrades will be applied to customer accounts proactively and free of charge. Rates for these plans will not change. So, the 100 Mbps plan will remain $40 per month and the 200 Mbps plan $60 per month. 

CEO Harold Zeitz told Fierce the vast majority of customers will only need to reboot their CPE to get the new speeds. Only a handful of legacy customers who switched over to Ziply's new plans will need to get new CPE from the company.

Asked how many customers will be impacted by the speed change, Zeitz noted around two-thirds of Ziply's new customers take its gig plan or higher. That means around the faster speeds will apply to around one-third of its new customers.

He added Ziply is confident the move won't negatively impact network performance.

"We’re really maniacal about this. We run our network in such a way that 100% of our customers have 0% congestion. We measure that to the customer level. We have so much room at this stage we don’t need to add any for this," he explained.

The move follows a recent trend among U.S. operators, which have begun increasing speeds for customers on lower service tiers especially.

For instance, Comcast implemented two speed increases in 2022. One early in the year targeted customers of its 300 Mbps and 800 Mbps service tiers in its northeast territories, while another in October upgraded users on its 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps, 300 Mbps, 600 Mbps and 900 Mbps plans. In the case of the lowest two tiers, Comcast increased download speeds to 75 Mbps and 200 Mbps, respectively.

Ziply competes with Comcast in parts of Washington State and Oregon. It’s also up against Lumen.

However, Zeitz said its decision to bump up speeds was driven less by competition and more by a desire to meet the needs of consumers who increasingly have more people and devices in their homes.

Cable One is another that bumped up speeds for customers last year. In fact, the company actually eliminated its 100 Mbps tier entirely and moved those subscribers to a 200 Mbps plan at a monthly cost increase of about $5.

Charter Communications and Mediacom also raised the bar, with the former making 200 Mbps its entry-level tier and the latter going with 100 Mbps.

These moves – coupled with the rollout of more multi-gig options –  appear to be helping drive a shift away from speeds of 200 Mbps or less. According to Open Vault’s Q1 2023 Broadband Insights report, just 9.5% of consumers had provisioned broadband speeds of 100 Mbps or less, a figure which was down year on year from 13.9%. Those with speeds between 100-200 Mbps fell from 17% to 9.3% over the same period. Meanwhile, those with speeds of 500 Mbps or higher rose from 19.5% to a whopping 40.1%.