RIDGELAND — Nine Mississippi cities have been selected finalists in C Spire’s “Get Fiber First Challenge,” a project to provide homes with Internet and digital television connections that are 100 times faster than the national average.
During Monday’s announcement at the C Spire headquarters in Ridgeland, officials explained the next step for the finalists, and unveiled the pricing for the service, which will move data at one-gigabit-per-second along a fiber optic network.
Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake, McComb, Quitman, Ridgeland and Starkville were selected from 33 cities and towns who submitted applications last month to be the first to obtain the fiber optic technology for their town.
C Spire initially planned to have a smaller list of finalists, but company officials said they increased the number to nine because of the strength, quality and comprehensive nature of submissions.
“We are truly impressed with the overwhelming show of support for C Spire’s Fiber to the Home deployment and the tremendous interest and demand for making this service a reality for the residents in these communities,” said Hu Meena, president and CEO of C Spire. “The positive response we’ve received only strengthens our determination to bring 100-times-faster Internet, and the limitless possibilities that come along with it, to as many people as we can because we know that this service has the power to transform our state into a hub for technology investment and economic growth.”
Instead of having one city be the first to obtain the technology, the next phase of the project could take the finished product to parts of several cities simultaneously.
The next step begins with officials and community leaders rallying their respective communities to quickly pre-register homeowners in designated neighborhoods at percentage levels that will qualify them to be first for service.
When a critical number of neighborhoods reach their percentage goals in an individual city, C Spire plans to begin construction in those areas, said Gregg Logan, senior vice president of C Spire Fiber.
Logan said pre-registration will begin soon after C Spire launches an updated Fiber to the Home website – www.cspire.com/fiberhome – that will show neighborhoods in each community and the percentage of residents needed to reach their goals.
Residents will need to make a $10 refundable deposit and provide credit card information when they pre-register. Logan said C Spire hopes to start turning up 1 Gig service in the first C Spire Fiber neighborhoods by the middle of next year.
C Spire also announced pricing for its ultra-fast Internet and related digital television and home phone services.
The 1 Gbps Internet access will be available for $80 a month, $100 a month for combined Internet and home phone, $140 a month for Internet and digital TV, and $160 a month for the entire package. C Spire Wireless customers will receive an additional $10 monthly discount on all packages.
The television package will be much like other cable and satellite services. The pricing is for the basic package, but may include HD and DVR in the basic price, said Jared Baumann, C Spire Brand Product manager.
“In a few weeks, we’ll have more information about the exact channel counts,” he said after Monday’s announcement. “We’ve actually done television for a number of years. Telapex, our parent company, has been in the TV business for probably about 30 years. We already have the infrastructure in place, and we’ll be pulling off that infrastructure.”
Gov. Phil Bryant, attended the news conference along with representatives from the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Americas. Bryant issued a proclamation declaring Nov. 4 “Get Fiber First” and “Gimme Fiber” day in Mississippi.
“Recently, I proclaimed November as Innovation Month, and I can’t think of any better example than C Spire, which is helping ensure Mississippi is a leader in technology,” Bryant said. “C Spire’s commitment in bringing fiber technology to communities across the state will help us compete in a global market.”
A C Spire review panel selected the finalists, using factors like proximity to the company’s fiber optic infrastructure, community mobilization capabilities and incentives to speed up the construction process and reduce overall costs. Ridgeland-based accounting firm HORNE LLP monitored and tabulated results in the application review process.
Meena said C Spire plans to continue working with the cities that were not selected in the preliminary. “We want to ensure that all of our communities remain actively engaged in the process and keep the demand and excitement alive for upcoming phases,” he said.