By Carl Howe
I'm amazed it has taken this long for the carriers to discover there's a market for these services, but Verizon (NYSE:VZ) has started sampling 20 megabit symmetrical Internet service for consumers in some regions of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. What does that mean? It means that consumers will be able to upload videos to YouTube and Flickr as fast as they download them, instead of it taking 4 to 10 times longer.
I'm a big fan of symmetric Internet access, because it allows anyone to be both a producer and a consumer of content. But the marketing aspect of this is probably more important to Verizon than the technical one. Why? Because while it's easy for Verizon to roll out a symmetric service on it's all-fiber FiOS infrastructure, that capability will be very hard for cable companies and DSL-centric carriers to duplicate on copper-based last-mile links. The result: Verizon gets serious differentiation for its products and a unique selling proposition for its sales reps as it rolls out FiOS service.
My prediction: this symmetric 20 Megabit FiOS service is going to be a big seller for the high-end, tech-savvy media junkies who pay the most for Internet service and generate significant consumer Internet profits. But more importantly, both the relatively high speed and symmetry are going to be marketing bludgeons for sales people to use against Verizon's competitors.