Midco ups ante with 100 mbps internet downloadsMitchell Telecom says it retains lead in upload speed.
By: Austin Kaus, The Daily Republic
Thursday morning marked what Midcontinent Communications called a “historic breakthrough,” as the company’s new service began allowing Internet download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second.
Meanwhile, Mitchell Telecom, which competes with Midcontinent in Mitchell, said it maintains an edge in upload speeds.
The announcement of MidcoNet Xstream Wideband Internet Service means customers will have three tiers of service to choose from, offering download speeds of 30, 50 or 100 mbps and upload speeds between 5 and 15 mbps. Midcontinent serves customers in three states.
“The rate of Internet usage increased 116 percent last year and has increased more than 300 percent since 2009,” Pat McAdaragh, president and CEO of Midcontinent Communications, said in a news release. “The demand for streaming online content is skyrocketing. Speed is important, but with multiple devices connected to the Internet, capacity is essential. MidcoNet Xstream Wideband delivers both the speed and capacity necessary to meet our customers’ needs, now and for years to come.”
“It’s not uncommon for there to be several Internet devices in a household,” added Tom Simmons, senior vice president of public policy for Midcontinent. “What this upgrade is going to allow them to do is have the capacity to handle all of those separate connections in a single residence.”
Current Midcontinent customers are automatically upgraded, although some customers will need to purchase new modems to have maximum access, said Simmons. Simmons said he did not know the cost of the modems. Lindsey Phillips, public relations coordinator for Lawrence & Schiller, which sent a Midcontinent press release Thursday, said there will be no increase in customers’ monthly rates.
As part of the conversion, Midcontinent customers will have access to ESPN3.com, a 24/7 broadband sports network that annually offers more than 3,500 live sports events.
Midcontinent has been converting its cable system from analog to digital for the past nine months in order to clear the way for data expansion. The company said in a press release that digital takes up one-tenth of the bandwidth used by analog, leaving more room to transfer data.
“For what bragging rights are worth, we have bragging rights,” Simmons said. “We’re going to continue to make sure our network is as robust as possible.”
Simmons estimated Midcontinent Communications has more than 4,000 customers in Mitchell.
Scott Peper, subsidiary manager of Mitchell Telecom, estimated that local company has more than 3,000 customers in Mitchell.
Peper said a June upgrade by the company means Mitchell Telecom customers have access to maximum download speeds of 75 mbps and upload speeds of 40 mpbs.
While Midcontinent has Mitchell Telecom beat in download speeds, Peper said his company is proud to have an upload speed superior to Midcontinent.
“We really like the lead on that upload,” Peper said. “I would say our users are putting stronger emphasis on uploads.”
He doesn’t expect an immediate response to the move by Midcontinent, but said he expects Mitchell Telecom to continue to upgrade its services.
“It’s still competition, as it was yesterday,” Peper said.
Karl Bieber, market development manager for Qwest/CenturyLink, said the company does not release customer numbers, including the number of customers serviced in Mitchell.
“We are well established in South Dakota,” Bieber said.
While the company currently offers a maximum download speed of 7 mbps, a plan to invest at least $5 million to improve and expand broadband communications services in South Dakota will implement an expanded broadband program in the coming years.
“The investment is in addition to the millions the company spends in the state annually to improve and expand its existing communications network,” Bieber said.