JACKSON and RIDGELAND — The city of Jackson is upping its bid to bring 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) Fiber to the Home broadband Internet access from C Spire.
Yesterday, municipal leaders and C Spire executives unveiled plans at a Convention Center news conference that promise to boost efforts to qualify more of the city’s neighborhoods sooner for C Spire’s broadband fiber-based Internet access and related digital HD TV and home phone services.
Online pre-registration for the services began in Jackson last month at www.cspire.com/jackson. Several hundred residents throughout the city already have expressed their interest by making a $10 refundable deposit and providing credit card information.
C Spire plans to support a comprehensive grassroots outreach and citizen advocacy campaign aimed at encouraging residents to quickly pre-register their interest in the next-generation suite of technology services and urge friends and neighbors to take similar action. The campaign will feature billboards, radio and print advertising, direct mail, building and bus wraps, street teams and sponsorship of high-profile events.
Municipal leaders will play a key role in helping educate and encourage residents throughout the city to pre-register for the service, said Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber, who added that C Spire and city officials also plan to partner with schools, community groups, churches and homeowner associations to help accelerate sign ups.
Instead of dividing neighborhoods into pre-determined sections, C Spire is allowing residents to determine whether and how quickly their areas qualify for construction through the pre-registration process.
“As a customer-inspired company, we felt this approach was the best way to help ensure that we get Gigabit speeds to people faster,” said Hu Meena, president and CEO for the Ridgeland-based telecom and technology services firm.
Yarber said the campaign represents a historic opportunity for the city to become a hub for technology investment, generate new, high-paying jobs and provide a better quality of life for residents.
“It’s a new day in our bold new city and we’re excited about partnering with C Spire to create a brighter future for our people,” he said. “Gigabit infrastructure will address so many needs in our city from education and health care to business expansion while improving home values.”
Yarber and Meena were joined at the news conference by key local education and business leaders, who discussed how the next-generation technology infrastructure will benefit residents, businesses and students.
Dr. Freddrick Murray, chief academic officer for high schools with Jackson Public Schools, said Gigabit infrastructure will help Jackson students develop essential 21st century technology and workplace skills and learn critical thinking.
“Education is no longer just about learning and memorizing facts and figures,” Murray said. “It’s about collaborating with others, solving complex problems, developing different forms of communication and leadership skills and improving motivation and productivity.”
All of JPS’ 68 schools and administrative facilities already are served by Gigabit Internet connections from C Spire, which Murray said allows students and teachers to potentially have the same robust connection at home and school for homework and collaborative learning as well as exploration of cutting-edge opportunities for teaching, learning, performing original research and working with other schools and organizations.
Likewise, businesses will benefit from C Spire’s Gigabit infrastructure in Jackson by helping attract new businesses and business investments in the metropolitan area, especially since neighboring cities like Clinton and Ridgeland also are working to qualify their communities for the game-changing technology, according to Duane O’Neill, president and CEO of the 2,100-member Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.
“Gigabit infrastructure can create a new economic reality for the city of Jackson,” O’Neill said. “In the handful of U.S. cities where this infrastructure is deployed and widely available, it has generated thousands of jobs, millions of dollars of new investment, boosted home values and improved the overall quality of life.”
Jackson is the 10th and largest city to join the technology initiative. C Spire forged relationships with nine other Mississippi cities last November, including Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake, McComb, Quitman, Ridgeland and Starkville after the company said it would use its extensive fiber optic infrastructure and spend millions of dollars to connect cities in the first phase.
Homeowner pre-registration began in the nine cities last December. Since that time, local government, community and business leaders have rallied residents in four of the cities (Ridgeland, Starkville, Quitman and Horn Lake) to pre-register at levels that qualified eight areas for the service. The company expects more areas in additional cities to qualify soon. Construction started in Ridgeland in May and has also been underway in areas of several other cities that have qualified for the service, including the entire town of Quitman.
Meena said the strong support and engagement from cities is the primary reason for the fast-moving initiative’s success thus far. When it launches service in the first C Spire Fiber cities later this fall, the company will have moved from vision to reality in one year. In comparison, Google took nearly three years before it selected and began offering Gigabit fiber service in Kansas City, Kansas. “Our initiative is a great example of what can be accomplished when cities, communities and business leaders work together to move Mississippi forward,” he said.