Verizon finally jumps into the $70-a-month 1 Gbps fiber broadband game

Verizon has joined the ranks of AT&T and Google Fiber with its own low-priced Gbps Fios offering called Fios Gigabit Connection.

However, it’s not quite a 1 Gbps service. Fios Gigabit Connection provides 940/880 Mbps speeds.

After launching its Fios Instant Internet service in January, which offered symmetrical 750 Mbps speeds, the service provider reported that customers regularly saw actual speeds well over the advertised 750 Mbps speeds.

RELATED: Verizon inches closer to 1 Gig with symmetrical 750 Mbps FiOS speed tier

This prompted Verizon to fine-tune the service with new firmware and diagnostic tools to increase performance.

Eligible consumers can either purchase Fios Gigabit Connection as a standalone service for $69.99 a month or $79.99 as part of a triple play bundle when ordered online.

Specifically, customers that bundle Fios Gigabit Connection with Fios Custom TV and Digital Voice service can but services online for $79.99 in year one and $84.99 in year two, with a two-year agreement.      

Enhancing tiers, discounts

But the Gbps service is just one part of Verizon’s latest speed upgrade effort.

Verizon is also now offering two tiers of standalone internet service—50 Mbps for $39.99 a month and Gigabit Connection for $69.99 a month when ordered online—in areas where Fios Gigabit Connection service is available. Additionally, existing customers with Instant Internet service will automatically receive Fios Gigabit Connection and will see their bills lowered.

Fios Gigabit Connection is currently available to over 8 million homes in parts of the New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Richmond, Virginia, Hampton Roads, Virginia, Boston, Providence, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C., areas. Verizon claims this is a more than 1 million home increase from the Instant Internet footprint with the D.C. and Providence markets getting access to Verizon's highest internet speeds for the first time. 

Verizon has been the lone holdout in the gigabit FTTH race, focusing on gradually introducing new speed tiers in recent years. Besides the 750 Mbps tier, Verizon previously introduced a 500 Mbps tier.

Boosting Fios additions

In first-quarter 2017, Verizon added a net of 35,000 Fios internet connections and lost 13,000 Fios Video connections. This was down from the 68,000 new Fios internet customers and 21,000 new FiOS video customers Verizon added in the fourth quarter.

At the end of first-quarter 2017, Verizon had a total of 5.7 million Fios internet connections.

While it will take time to assess how much an effect the new Gbps offering will have on Verizon’s Fios internet base, the service provider remains challenged by cable operators like Comcast and Charter, which have been upgrading their existing HFC plant to deliver Gbps and even 2 Gbps services today.

Verizon and the other top telcos continue to trail cable in the broadband subscriber race.

According to Leichtman Research Group, the top cable operators gained 122% of the broadband additions in 2016—up from 106% in 2015, and 89% in 2014. However, the top telcos lost about 600,000 subscribers in 2016—an increase over a loss of about 185,000 subscribers in 2015.