When Dave Miller, senior manager for media relations at C Spire, dropped by our offices the other day, we took the opportunity to chat with him about the company’s progress toward delivering 1 Gig Internet speeds within the state of Mississippi. “We expect to make our first connections in Ridgeland this fall,” he said. “When you think about the timeline, we’re really proud of our progress.”
It was only last fall that C Spire announced its aggressive plan to bring the super high speed internet service to Mississippi, inviting cities around the state to apply for that service in their areas. By Oct. 20, 2013, 33 cities had responded, and by Nov. 4, nine cities were selected for the service. These are Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake, McComb, Quitman, Ridgeland and Starkville.
Asked why these cities were the “winners,” Dave said. “Because these were the communities that wanted it the most. We stipulated at the beginning that the folks who wanted the service the most would be the ones who get it first.”
C Spire has identified 81 “fiberhoods” in those cities where the service will be available, representing 86,000 households. C Spire will offer the service at $70 a month for internet, $90 a month for internet and home phone, or $130 a month for internet and television.
Just a few years ago, when many people were on dial-up Internet service, a “fast connection” was considered to be a 33.6 KBPS modem. Then came broadband Internet, which was leaps and bounds ahead of dial-up. And now comes the world of 1 GBPS, which is up to 100 times faster than the average speeds available to most homes today.
Dave sees this as a journey from “nice to necessity,” as he phrased it.
“Today, we’re seeing more and more interlinking among our phones, computers, automobiles and the devices in our homes,” he said. “By 2018, some estimates are that the number of digital devices may well double. Our goal at C Spire is to be ready for that future, and to play a major role in delivering the service that makes it possible.”
Dave said that the company’s goal is to provide as many connections as possible in the next few years, and that the company is ready and willing to make the huge investments necessary to deliver the technology.
“At present, we’re the only company with this vision in the state of Mississipppi,” he said. “We see so many possibilities down the road. For one thing, this could well open the door to folks being able to conference in real time with their doctors, and give the doctors the access to diagnostics that they need to provide treatment.”
He also sees this as a major economic development tool for cities and communities, pointing out that it can actually enhance the value of homes and businesses.
“When railroads came to America, it was a transforming event. Then came interstate highways and major airports. And now, it’s the internet of things, with another major transformation,” he said. “This will touch just about every aspect of our culture, and sooner rather than later.”
C Spire began construction in May and June in the first cities (Ridgeland, Quitman, and Starkville), and Dave said the first homes will be enjoying the new service by the fall.
“In those few other locations where the service has been rolled out, it has generally taken up to three years to complete the project,” he said. “And we’ve done it in a year.”
For those who might like to see a speed comparison for the 1 GBPS service, go to www.cspire.com and look for the fiber speed comparison link. The difference is pretty amazing, and what would have been inconceivable just a few years ago is now within reach.
“Our goal is to move forward and capitalize on these opportunities,” Dave said. “And I guess you might say we have a bias for urgency.”
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1021.