By JACK WEATHERLY
C Spire is launching a major high-speed Internet service initiative to underserved parts of Mississippi as well as to small businesses.
The Ridgeland-based company announced the plan Monday that will offer its service to 250,000 small businesses and individuals, with speeds typically 25 megabits per second (Mbps) in underserved areas, 100 Mbps in other communities and 1 Gigabit per second for small businesses. A Gigabit is 1,000 faster than a megabit.
The launch of 25 Mbps service to the underserved in the Delta and northeast Mississippi includes the following towns: Greenville, Greenwood, Indianola, Belzoni Vicksburg, Louisville, Columbus and West Point, C Spire spokesman Dave Miller. More markets will be added later in the year, he said.
Chief Executive Hu Meena said in a release: “As the state’s leading technology company and one that gets its inspiration from our loyal customers, we have a responsibility to. . .equip our communities to effectively compete in the technology revolution and help close the gap on the digital divide,”
Miller said in an interview that a 2016 report from the Federal Communications Commission put Mississippi at or near the bottom in terms of broadband access.
“If Mississippi expects to be successful, we’re going to need robust Internet access,” Miller said.
The service offered in what C Spire calls its Tech Movement plan can be “transformative” to 52,000 small businesses, which, according to the federal Small Business Administration, is about 20 percent of all the small businesses in the state, Miller said.
Additionally, “wireless fiber” technology – a hybrid of wireless and fiber – will be rolled out initially to 70,000 individuals and businesses with up to 100-megabits of speed. That rollout gets service to users much sooner, rather than the strictly fiber-based, Miller said. Plans call for offering it to another 130,000 consumers and businesses.