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With C Spire, Jackson joins other cities set to ride wave of lightning speed into tomorrow

c-spire-lte-106Thanks to C Spire’s extensive fiber-optic network, Mississippi may be about to wave goodbye to a long-held reputation for letting things happen in their own sweet time.

You likely won’t hear about people doing something in a “Mississippi Minute,” but you will hear about Mississippi being home to some of the fastest broadband speeds on the planet.

Change has been in motion for the better part of a year as Ridgeland’s C Spire progresses in its effort to bring one gigabit Internet service to the Magnolia State’s homes and businesses.

The regional telecommunications company has a roster of selected cities for its next-generation Internet service that includes Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake, McComb, Quitman, Ridgeland and Starkville.

Jackson became the newest entry last Thursday, with a kick-off at the Jackson Convention Complex. With Jackson, C Spire is initiating what it calls a “consumer-inspired” strategy by which it says it can help neighborhoods qualify sooner for the 100-times-faster Internet access and related digital HD TV and home phone services.

One-hundred times faster means just what it says, according to C Spire:  100 times as fast as the average connection speed in the United States, which Internet company Akamai Technologies put at about 10 megabits per second.

It’s a speed the New York Times says can allow the download of 612 kitten photos in about two-and-a-half minutes.

C Spire’s goal is to get sufficient numbers of Jackson residents in a neighborhood to pre-register with a refundable $10 deposit.  Online pre-registration for the services began in Jackson last month at www.cspire.com/jackson. Several hundred residents throughout the city already have done the pre-registering, C Spire executives said at the kick-off announcement last week.

Along with the grassroots campaign, the signup effort will feature billboards, radio and print advertising, direct mail, building and bus wraps, street teams and sponsorship of high-profile events.

Jackson neighborhoods that reach signup levels set by C Spire will be the first to get the new generation of fiber services, the company says.

With Clinton and Ridgeland already among the cities designated for the one gigabit service, Metro Jackson and its businesses stand to gain a significant economic development asset, said Duane O’Neill, president & CEO of the 2,100-member Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership.

O’Neill, among the speakers at the campaign announcement, said the gigabit infrastructure will help attract new businesses and business investments to the metropolitan area

“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.”

As CEO of Innovate Mississippi, Tony Jeff has thought plenty about how the arrival of one gigabit broadband will change business in Mississippi. Still, he has difficulty grasping the immensity of the impact, he said in email this week.

It “is such a large capacity that it’s hard to even predict what future applications and technologies will be developed to take advantage of it,” said Jeff, whose organization seeks to drive innovation and technology-based economic development for the state, particularly through assisting innovation-based startup companies and connecting entrepreneurs with investors.

Here are some of the impacts Jeff said he thinks will be felt almost immediately:

» 4K/Ultra-High Definition through streaming is an immediate “killer app” since questions on how 4K/UHD programming can be delivered have somewhat slowed the growth of the format.

» The “Internet of things.” As more and more home devices are connected to the Internet and their video and data capabilities grow, fiber to the home is going to greatly increase their value and use.  This also greatly increases the opportunities for companies to develop solutions to take advantage of the bandwidth available.  This is also likely to affect home security significantly since the expectation may soon be that anyone approaching a home will expect that they are being video taped – probably from multiple angles.  This obviously has privacy concerns as well, though, so homeowners will be looking for solutions that give them security and privacy.

» Home is faster than work.  The whole idea of “Cyber Monday” was that people waited until they got back to their broadband connections at the office to place orders the weekend after Thanksgiving.  That entire idea is turned on its head when people have faster connections at home than at work.

» Another big advantage: Many employees can work from home and have nearly real-world work experiences.  This will enable people to live far from their work locations even better than today without affecting the quality of their work.

» Access to any type of education is now available anywhere that you can get good broadband, but the quality of the experience is greatly enhanced with higher bandwidths and more immersive experiences.

Jeff said he can’t emphasize enough how little anyone knows about what will be invented yet. “So this is the Wild Wild West again like what we saw with cell phone functionality 7-8 years ago,” he said.

Atlanta telecom analyst Jeff Kagan said he thinks  C Spire’s new generation of Internet speeds will let Mississippi “ride the wave of lightening speed into tomorrow.”

Cities that have this, he said, will be able to attract new businesses and keep the ones they have. “It is true that companies will take better advantage of this than will individuals,” he said.

Google has initiated the one gig fiber service in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., Austin, Tex., and Provo, Utah. The Internet giant is also in talks with nine other metro areas, including Atlanta, Phoenix and Portland, Ore., Chattanooga, Tenn., and several other cities that have fiber networks of their own, not connected with Google, the New York Times reported in a Sept. 6 article.

The Times’ article speculated that the true take-off for one-gigabit speed must await creation of applications that can make worthwhile use of it. In truth, the Times’ article said, Google’s one gig speed is so fast, it is hard to know what to do with it.

Kagan advises the payoff will come with patience. “You have to build the road before the trucks can drive on it,” he said.

But once the road is built, Kagan added, the companies that venture onto it “will look at themselves and say, ‘We’re doing business.’”



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