July 17, 2012
Amanda Schnieders, Kauffman Foundation
Linkcity Offers High-Speed Access in Northland
In 2006, before the words “Google Fiber” were ever even uttered in Kansas City, Linkcity established the first municipally owned and operated fiber-optic broadband in the state of Missouri.
Through the efforts of the mayor and the city council, Linkcity installed the underground fiber network between North 32nd Avenue and the Riverfront area. Linkcity’s fiber is connected to residential homes and businesses through an Ethernet cable in the building. Melissa Hopkins, Linkcity marketing and sales manager, said the company wanted to provide a faster Internet connection than most traditional service providers were able to handle.
“Where a traditional provider might only be able to offer 1.5 meg high-speed Internet, Linkcity can provide packages of 20 to 30 meg high-speed Internet to homes and businesses,” Hopkins said.
She added that monthly packages for residents start as low as $14.95 for 1.5 meg, and go up to $159.95 for 30 meg, with about six levels of meg capability offered. Linkcity currently serves about 11 percent of the 4,000 North Kansas City residents (not including housing units).
For businesses in the area, packages start at 2 meg for $39.95 and go up to 30 meg for $199.95. Linkcity services around 25 percent of the 1,500 businesses in the area. The company now offers businesses up to 1 gigabit speed, the same speed as the soon-to-be offered Google Fiber network, starting at $2,000.
While the connection speed of Internet providers has managed to increase over the past few years, it seems many Linkcity customers have stayed away from the more expensive packages. The majority of residential packages only reaches 5 meg, while the average business package is 10 meg.
Furthermore, most Linkcity customers aren’t utilizing the fastest speeds. Only four homes are currently using 20 meg speed, the fastest connection currently provided by Linkcity. Likewise, only 43 businesses are using 30 meg, the highest speed Linkcity is providing to a business. This means that no one in the North Kansas City area has jumped on the gigabit train.
As for the similarities to Google Fiber, Hopkins said she couldn’t speak on behalf of the Google network infrastructure.
“I don’t know how Google’s network will work,” Hopkins said. “All I know is that our rates are competitive with a traditional provider, but our speed is faster than most of them.”
This is true with AT&T U-verse’s top speed only 24 meg, but both AT&T and Time Warner Cable offer their top speeds at a lower price than Linkcity. AT&T’s top speed of 24 meg is only $44.95/month, while Time Warner Cable provides 50 meg for $79.99/month, cheaper and faster than Linkcity’s 30 meg monthly package for $159.95.
Hopkins said Linkcity’s advantage is that they provide Internet connections in areas of North Kansas City that traditional providers might not service with speeds that most local providers do not or cannot offer.
Still, with Google Fiber arriving at any time, will Linkcity be able to compete with the new technology on the block?
“When AT&T came out with U-verse several years ago, they offered a fiber-optic connection as well,” Hopkins said. “We didn’t see customers running away. It just increased competition, which is always good in any environment. We handled it then and we can handle it again.”