By SAM PESHEK email@example.com
A two-year wait is over: Bryan-College Station is the first community in Texas to have access to Suddenlink's super-fast 1 gigabit Internet speeds.
Experts said the upgrade puts local businesses and residences in an elite class to which only parts of some major U.S. cities have access.
Suddenlink representatives and local elected officials gathered Thursday afternoon at Texas A&M's Memorial Student Center to formally announce that residents and businesses in its service area have immediate access to the service. It will increase existing Internet speeds tenfold and put Bryan-College Station in the top 8 percent of fastest Internet speeds in the country.
To give some perspective on the upgrade, Suddenlink Southwest Region Senior Vice President of Operations Dave Gilles said a full-length movie that would take 10 minutes to download on some current Suddenlink speed offerings can be done in a matter of seconds on the 1 GB package. One gigabyte is a unit of storage capacity in a computer system and is loosely equal to 1 billion bytes.
College Station Councilman James Benham first organized a proposal to bring 1 GB speeds to the area as a freshman politician in January 2013, so it was only fitting that he helped make the big announcement. He said the new speeds will give the twin cities an edge over the rest of Texas.
"We're competitive now in a big, big way," Benham said.
The 1 GB packages officially went up for sale Thursday morning before the press conference at a cost of roughly $100 per month for residents with available discounts.
Suddenlink representatives said there will be a monthly 550 GB cap, but customers will receive a notice well in advance before the cap is reached and will have options to raise it. Customers interested in upgrading also will also need to upgrade their cable modem through Suddenlink, even if they already are leasing.
As part of Thursday's announcement, Gilles said Suddenlink customers in the area with current download speeds up to 75 and 100 megabytes per second will receive a free automatic upgrade to speeds up to 100 and 200 mbps, respectively.
Suddenlink's new offering translates into more than just quicker movie download time, Internet browsing and gameplay speeds. Faster internet means businesses in the area can do work more quickly than ever before, which will in turn attract more companies to the Research Valley Partnership, officials said.
Natalie Ruiz, director of economic development for the city, said the new speed offerings will prove to be vital to attracting businesses to the area.
"In the old days, when we would go out and recruit businesses the first questions were: Is there roadway access? Is there water access? Is there sewer access?" Ruiz said. "There was no discussion about fiber or Internet but now that's the number one thing businesses are asking for: What is the speed of the service?"
Suddenlink officials said there will be an increased focus on the Bryan-College Station area as they engage in an aggressive "Gig City" campaign as the company gradually rolls out the high-speed package.
Bryan Councilman Chuck Konderla said given the campaign title, Aggieland was the best place kick it off.
"Today, gig-speed is here in Aggieland where it belongs," Konderla said. "We're a Gig 'Em city already so Gig City matches."