Downtown Boise businesses get faster, cheaper internet

fiber optic map in downtown boise
This is where CableONE is offering its Piranha fiber optic service in downtown Boise thus far. Map courtesy of CableOne.

An end-to-end fiber optic cable is providing faster Internet at lower cost to business customers in downtown Boise.

CableONE Business is now offering its Piranha Fiber service, which runs on fiber optic cable. It provides up to 2 gigabits per second (gbps) of symmetrical internet, meaning it offers that speed both sending and receiving. The service is the first 2-gigabit shared fiber optic internet services in downtown Boise and one of the first ones in the country, the company said.

“We’re excited about the increased bandwidth,” said a representative from a legal firm in the U.S. Bank building, who asked not to be named. The company, which has signed up for the service but has not yet received it, expects to pay around $500 a month for speeds ten times faster than its current system from Allstream Business Inc., though the company will keep the company’s voice service through Allstream.

For now, the company is signed up for 500 megabits per second (mbps) symmetric, compared with the 50 mbps symmetric service the company has now. While 50 mbps could typically serve a five-person office with tasks such as videoconferencing, point-of-sale transactions, and large file transfers, 500 mbps can provide those services, as well as web hosting and electronic commerce, for a growing office, according to Bill Frost in Business.org.

While other providers have offered fiber optic telecommunications services, typically they used coaxial copper connections for the “last mile” to the office. Like reducing a highway to a two-lane road, that reduces the bandwidth the telecommunications service can provide. Other fiber optic services use a dedicated line, which is typically more expensive than the shared line the Piranha service offers.

photo of stephen blum
Stephen Blum

“If the fiber goes all the way into the home or business, it is a significant upgrade that, in theory, allows for gigabit-class service,” said Stephen Blum, president of broadband, digital and telecommunications consulting firm Tellus Venture Associates, in Marina, California. However, other factors influence the service’s speed and capacity, he said. “A company might send a gigabit, or multiple gigabits, out of its central office. But then it’s split, sometimes up to 128 or more customers. That gigabit would be shared by all the customers.”

Another factor is the size of the connection from the central office to the internet itself, Blum said. “Say you have 100 circuits going out of and coming back to the central office, each serving 128 customers,” he said. “If they all have to share a single gigabit connection between the central office and the Internet, it’s going to be that fast. If they share, say, 10 gigabits, it’ll probably be pretty good.”

The service could have a maximum of 64 subscribers at up to 2 gbps, said Brian Royster, business services manager in Idaho for Cable One.


CableONE said it planned to expand into other business areas in the Boise metropolitan area but didn’t provide details. Pricing for the service starts at $99.95 per month when bundled with business telephone service for three years, and speeds start at 50 megabits per second.

“It is the best offering in town – the fastest speeds at the best price point,” the user said.

The user said they had been told by both Allstream and CenturyLink Inc. that the companies were no longer going to provide fiber optic service in downtown Boise, and was in the process of researching alternative providers when the CableONE offering came along. CenturyLink has been providing high-speed internet service with speeds of up to a gigabit per second — including using optical networking technology — to residential customers in Idaho since 2015, said Mark Molzen, CenturyLink spokesman.

CenturyLink recently sold 300 miles of its fiber optic holdings in Boise, which it had obtained through its acquisition of the Level 3 telecommunications company, to Syringa Networks, to comply with a Department of Justice decree to help ensure the Boise telecommunications market remained competitive.

This story was corrected July 14 to show Brian Royster is business services manager-Idaho for Cable One.

Consumers complain about internet installation delays

photo of centurylink building
CenturyLink blames demand for a high-speed internet promotion for delays in installation. Photo by Sharon Fisher.

Some new residents in the Treasure Valley have reported having trouble signing up for installation of internet service, with delays of as much as a couple of weeks before appointments are available.

“Due to high demand for CenturyLink’s high speed internet service, some customers in Idaho may be experiencing longer than normal timeframes for installation of their service,” said Mark Moltzen, issues manager in the corporate communications department, in Phoenix. “We have brought in additional resources to meet this demand.” The company offers internet services over telephone lines.

CableOne, which splits the Treasure Valley into two sections, Boise and West Valley, said it was typically scheduling appointments within 48 hours, sometimes within 24. “In the summer, as it gets busy, it might go out three or four days,” said Celynda Roach, general manager for the Boise system, which covers Boise, Garden City, and unincorporated Ada County. The company offers internet services over its cable television network.

People moving to a new home that never had cable before might have a one- to two-week delay, but otherwise people are being scheduled the next day or the day after, said Cheryl Goettsche, general manager for the West Valley system, which covers Kuna, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, and McCall.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission doesn’t regulate internet companies, according to Matt Evans, public information officer, in Boise.