Bright House Networks has jumped into the residential 1 Gigabit arena with an EPON-based fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service that will launch this summer in three Tampa Bay area housing developments.

Bright House Networks partnered with Florida developer Metro Development Group (MDG) and The Broadband Group for a greenfield deployment of a symmetrical 1 Gbps service to the homeowners.

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MDG has dubbed the service “UltraFi” and it will also include access to a 1-Gigabit Wi-Fi services outside of the homes in areas such as clubhouses, playgrounds and hiking trails.

MDG president Greg Singleton said some of the walking trails would have interactive art features that will allow Wi-Fi users to input a code to get more information on the artist or sculpture. And with the 1-Gig speeds, users won’t get bogged down if a lot of them are accessing a hotspot at the same time. (The actual speeds depend on the consumers’ devices.)

The first homes with the built-in fiber connections are currently under construction with move-ins slated for this summer. The first three developments are called Union Park, Park Creek and Waterleaf. The project will encompass 6,000 homes across a total of six developments by the time it’s finished.  

On the home front, the 1-Gig connection will allow users to rapidly download and view 4K offerings from the likes of Netflix, engage in video conferencing and enable faster interactive gaming experiences. There’s also a roadmap in place for an IPTV service from Bright House Networks.

UltraFi also features home automation and security services, which will include a product from Bright House Networks. Homeowners will have the ability to remotely control thermostats, turn lights on and off and check in on family members from anywhere with an Internet connection at no additional charge for the first six months.

“Bright House Networks is pleased to join Metro Development Group in this revolutionary project,” said Nomi Bergman, president of Bright House Networks. “Bright House Networks has designed a fiber-to-the-home network solution for MDG because of the very specific applications the Developer has planned for its communities. We are confident both Bright House and MDG can provide superior products and services now and into the future.”

Bright House Networks will pre-wire the homes prior to UltraFi’s launch.

The fiber network also allows MDG to branch out into other verticals, such as education, telemedicine and telecommuting via interconnections to regional enterprise resources. There’s also access to high-capacity online storage in cloud-based data centers.

Tom Reiman, president of The Broadband Group, said the RFP process started about a year ago. Reiman said the initial list of applicants also included Verizon, which has a strong presence in the Tampa Bay area, and other “early stage” providers of FTTH services.

“Bright house Networks stood up and got the message,” Reiman said. “What we wanted resonated with them more than anyone else. I’m a strong advocate of symmetrical services for things like education and telemedicine. It was a key requirement and it was a commitment that Bright House was willing to make. A community can only launch once but technology can launch numerous times."

Reiman said one of the challenges in a partnership between a service provider and real estate developer was getting them to speak the same language. MDG had a specific plan in place and Bright House Networks was the most responsive in terms of meeting MDG’s goals.

“They’ve been fantastic,” Singleton said of Bright House. “I can’t speak more highly of the process we went through with Bright House. For me, it’s not always about the numbers, it’s also about the guy sitting across the table from me.”

On the surface, the 1-Gig deployment by Bright House Networks looks like a counterstroke to Google Fiber’s plans to offer its 1-Gig service to as many as 34 cities, but Google’s plans don’t cross the cable operator’s Florida footprint and the RFP process started before Google’s announcement.

MDG wanted to take on the task of providing an ultra-fast service to homeowners that are more than willing to pay for it, although pricing plans haven’t been released to date, as part of their lifestyles.

“Bright House Networks builds customized solutions for voice, data, cloud-based and managed services working side-by-side with clients. Our world class technology team offers advanced solutions for large businesses and multi-site organizations based on the applications planned by the client,” said Craig Cowden, senior vice president - network engineering, operations and enterprise solutions for Bright House Networks.

Last year Cox Communications fired up a trial FTTH service to the Rancho Mission Viejo development in south Orange County, Calif., but the initial launch featured services and data speeds similar to what Cox offers over traditional HFC.