What happens in Vegas will now happen at gigabit speeds

CenturyLink (s CTL) will expand its gigabit network pilot to Las Vegas, bringing fiber to the home service to select neighborhoods in the desert city this fall with more areas added in 2014. This follows on the telco’s May announcement of a gigabit network for Omaha, Neb., that it hopes to start connecting people on in October.

Prices are listed at $80 a month for gigabit service when bundled with TV for a total of $125 a month. The stand alone price is $145 a month for gigabit service, so basically the gigabit network is subsidizing the TV package. That’s a switch!

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These prices also include a 12-month contract. Which brings up an insidious problem that has crept into the broadband world in the last three years or so — one- and two-year contracts borrowed from the wireless industry. When I told my colleague Derrick Harris who lives in Vegas about this news, instead of glee his response was unprintable. He had just signed a two-year contract with CenturyLink’s competitor Cox.

Sure, he can cancel and pay whatever termination fee, but as we enter into a new cycle of broadband upgrades, these contracts, which weren’t as prevalent during the last upgrade cycle (to DOCSIS 3.0 on the cable side and to fiber-to-the-node services on the telco side) could keep customers from signing up. And that might influence where the fiber investments are made. For consumers, if they are in a major metro area, my hunch is that a contract will increasingly be a problem as gigabit networks expand. And that if you want to buy a gig, you might just end up with TV, too.