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With competition coming, Sparklight cuts prices & data caps — for some users

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Last week, we told you about Sparklight’s decision to restart data caps and overages charges after a break during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BoiseDev readers pointed out, if you happen to live in the right spot, you can slash your high-speed Internet bill.

Sparklight began offering new, lower-priced packages to customers who live in certain areas – including Meridian and Garden City. Users who live in Boise, Nampa, Caldwell, and other areas serviced by Sparklight are stuck with the older packages.

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Faster, cheaper

What’s the difference? Price, and speed.

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For 300 Mbps of download speed, the Meridian and Garden City plans, called Freedom Connect, cost $35 per month for three years. They also have no data cap.

For Sparklight’s regular 300 Mbps plan, customers pay $80 per month. They are also subject to a data cap of 1.2 terabytes.

“Sparklight continuously evaluates and adjusts our service offerings based on market-based testing and evaluation,” Trish Niemann, Sparklight’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications told BoiseDev. “We are currently piloting the Freedom Connect plans in Meridian and Garden City, Idaho at this time. Based on customer feedback, plan opt-in and a number of other factors, we will then make the decision as to whether we will expand these plans to other areas in Idaho as well as our other markets across the U.S.”

[Utah company acquires Boise-grown data center business]

TDS Telecom on the way

The areas Sparklight offers the new, lower-priced options, happen to overlap with the coming arrival of a new fiber-based provider.

TDS Inc. started buildout on new broadband service in several areas — including Meridian and Garden City. TDS Broadband offers three Internet service tiers, exactly matching the “Freedom Connect” plans offered by Sparklight in terms of download speed. The company said it will launch later this year or early next year. It already started advertising in the market.

Sparklight’s prices slightly undercut those offered by TDS. A 300 Mbps plan from TDS costs $40 per month for two years, versus $35 per month for three years from Sparklight.

ProviderDownload SpeedInitial price
Sparklight Boise/Nampa/other300 Mbps$80/mo.
Sparklight Meridian/GC300 Mbps$35/mo. *
TDS Fiber300 Mbps$40/mo. *
* Trial price. Sparklight for three years, TDS for two years

Niemann said many factors went into the decision to change its pricing in a few local ZIP codes.

“Like most companies, Sparklight regularly tests different pricing and packages in select markets prior to footprint-wide roll out,” Niemann said. “The launch of our Freedom Connects plans in May was unrelated to the launch of TDS, but we do believe that competition makes us all better and provides a benefit to customers and communities.”

Existing customers of Sparklight (formerly Cable ONE) in Meridian and Garden City can switch to the lower-priced tiers. They will need to call the company at 877-692-2253 to make the change.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the plans were 300 GB. They are 300 Mbps.

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Don Day
Don is the founder and editor of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow.

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