By BECKY GILLETTE
There is a lot going on in the technology world. And C Spire, a Mississippi-based technology company in Ridgeland, is on the forefront of providing the latest in cutting-edge products to help customers meet their needs for fast and affordable service, said Dave Miller, senior manager of media relations for C Spire.
“We are getting ready to introduce our next phase of ultra-high speed mobile broadband for our wireless customers, and are continuing to build out our fiber to the home network in new communities,” Miller said. “We are getting ready to do market trials on what we are calling wireless fiber.”
Today the model that telecommunications companies use when they are building out fiber to the home is called the last mile. The companies go into neighborhoods, place fiber under the street, and then connect each home with a fiber connection. Miller said that is very time consuming and expensive. An alternative to putting fiber throughout the neighborhood is to bring fiber to a strategic location in a neighborhood, and connect from that location wirelessly to an electronic device on the side of a house that could provide wireless service not just to one home, but a number of homes in the area.
“Think Direct TV or Dish, but not so obtrusive,” Miller said. “It allows high-speed broadband to be made available to more people more quickly and more cost effectively. It is a big deal in the technology world. We are still trialing the technology to get proof of concept and work out fees and coverage areas to see how many homes can be covered by one of these nodes. But it is definitely a way to provide better, faster service and cover more people more cost efficiently.”
C Spire is also partnering with the University of Mississippi to hold a major technology conference on April 27 at 2 p.m. the Pavilion, the university’s new $96.5 million basketball arena. Miller said national speakers are invited to speak about where technology is headed in the region and the country. Demonstrations are planned for some of the leading technology innovations in the U.S. including streaming digital television, virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
“We plan demonstrations of new cutting-edge technology that is going to affect how people live, work and play,” Miller said. “This is a Mississippi version of the kind of conference you might expect in one of the West Coast states like California.”
Speakers scheduled for the one-day event include Dr. Brian Uzzi, a Northwestern University professor and artificial intelligence expert, National Football League CIO Michelle McKenna-Doyle and Randi Zuckerberg, founder of Zuckerberg Media and former CMO at Facebook.
C Spire, which started out as Cellular South in 1988. In 2011, the company changed its name and brand to C Spire to reflect becoming more than a wireless company, focusing on providing a broad range of telecommunications and technology solutions. In 2012, the company started C Spire Business Solutions. In 2013, it started the fiber-to-home initiative to build ultra-fast broadband fiber cable to supplement their wireless service.
“Fiber-to-home service provides one gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second for both uploading and downloading, which is 100 times faster than what was available on a broadband basis,” Miller said. “When people have multiple devices in the home such as a Smart phones, desktop computers, laptops, Smart TVs and gaming devices, all these require an Internet connection. By having a gigabit per second, you can use every wireless device without every coming close to using up the Internet capacity coming into the house. We also offer digital home telephone services, Internet combined with TV, or Internet, TV and phone only.
In 2014, C Spire built a new commercial data center in Starkville.
“That is significant because there really isn’t another data center of this quality and certification with readily available space in the region for small, medium and large businesses,” Miller said. “We are now offering a full suite of cloud and data services through that center, which has the highest industry certification available from the Uptime Institute. This is similar to a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The data center gives proprietary businesses extra security and privacy.
Miller said C Spire has accomplished a lot over a short period of time.
“You have to be very nimble and quick to respond to changes in the marketplace,” Miller said. “That is the nature of the business. We have taken the best attributes of being a wireless company and applied them to adding new services. We are now a truly diversified company. But we haven’t forgotten our roots. Wireless is still a big part of our business. On our latest unlimited plan, we now have a popular option where people can get cash back if they don’t use all of their data capacity. Those types of things have allowed us to continue to be successful in what is a very competitive industry.”
C Spire is a privately-held company owned by Mississippians. Miller said local ownership is a big advantage.
“Because this is our home, we are very much committed to moving Mississippi forward,” Miller said. “So we try to continue to come up with technology innovations that will help consumers and businesses.”