SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Adrian Bridgwater, Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman

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C Spire celebrates start of construction for Mississippi’s next-generation 1 Gbps Fiber to the Home service offering 100 times faster Internet access

The next Gig thing is almost here. C Spire moved a giant step closer this week in its quest to make 100 times faster consumer broadband Internet service a reality in nine Mississippi cities by starting construction on its ultra-high speed 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) Fiber to the Home initiative.

C Spire crews began installing fiber optic cable in Ridgeland’s Bridgewater neighborhood this week – marking another milestone in the Mississippi company’s mission to move the Magnolia state from worst to first in national rankings for average Internet speeds and consumer access to super-fast broadband services.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, Fiber to the Home Council Americas President Heather Burnett Gold, the mayors of Ridgeland, Quitman, Starkville and a host of other government, business and community leaders and dignitaries joined C Spire CEO Hu Meena Thursday at a news conference to celebrate the historic development.

Meena noted that C Spire is building the first statewide 1 Gbps fiber to the home network in the U.S. The initiative already represents the largest single deployment of this infrastructure – in terms of total cities at one time – in North America.

“Fiber to the Home is a transformative technology for communities, serving as a platform for innovation and new Internet experiences yet to be imagined,” Meena said. “We’re going to show the world that Mississippi is ready to become a hub for technology investment, economic growth and job creation.”

Nine Mississippi cities, including Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake, McComb, Quitman, Ridgeland and Starkville, were selected by C Spire last November for the game-changing technology after the company said it would use its 4,600 miles of fiber optic infrastructure and spend millions of dollars to connect cities in the first phase.

Homeowner pre-registration began last December. Since that time, local government, community and business leaders have rallied residents in four of the cities to pre-register at levels that qualify six areas, including the entire town of Quitman, for the service. Meena said interest is high in the next-generation service with thousands of homeowners in 80 of the 81 specially-designed fiberhoods paying a $10 fee and pre-registering for the service. The company expects more areas in additional cities to qualify soon.

While construction has started in Ridgeland, Meena said work is also underway in other C Spire Fiber cities. C Spire crews are laying backbone fiber optic cable for last mile connections in Quitman and are ready to start work in Horn Lake as soon as the city finishes a massive water and sewer project. Construction in Starkville should begin next month.

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 summer, the company will have moved from vision to reality in less than 12 months. 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.

C Spire is a perfect example of the technology and innovation in Mississippi, according to Bryant. “C Spire’s commitment to bring fiber optic technology to communities across the state will help us compete in a global economy.”

FTTH Council’s Gold said C Spire’s entrepreneurial spirit, its willingness to invest in Mississippi and partner with cities are key factors in the success of one of the most important technology initiatives in the state’s history. “Increasingly, communities and companies around the U.S. are recognizing the power that FTTH brings, and we’re glad to be celebrating in Mississippi, a state that has not traditionally led the digital charge, but where individuals, communities and technology companies like C Spire recognize that they must take control of their own broadband destinies to secure a high-tech future.”

“It’s very exciting for our city,” said Horn Lake Mayor Alan Latimer. “This technology will put us at the front of the line for higher-paying jobs, more technology investment and a better quality of life.” Horn Lake and other parts of DeSoto County are among the state’s fastest growing areas.

Quitman Mayor Eddie Fulton, who recruited an army of community, education and neighborhood volunteers to help his Clarke County town qualify for the service, said C Spire’s initiative is the most important development for his city in the last half century. “It’s a God send … we’re ecstatic to say the least. Having fiber optics in our city is a tremendous gateway to the future and will open the door to opportunities we could only dream about before.”

Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman, who traveled around the country studying how a handful of other U.S. cities managed to gain similar technology infrastructure, said the initiative represents “a historic moment” for Mississippi. “It’s really incredible to know that this will be the first multi-city deployment of Gigabit service in the U.S. It’s not every day that you get to be a part of something that is truly groundbreaking and game-changing.”

Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee, whose city already has a reputation as one of the nation’s most family and business friendly communities, said municipal leaders have been focused on educating and informing residents about the benefits associated with fiber to the home since first learning about the initiative last year.

McGee has gone door to door canvassing residents, sent pre-recorded telephone messages to homeowners and led a 27-mile bike ride through 12 of the city’s neighborhoods to raise awareness about the need to pre-register for C Spire’s Fiber to the Home service.

“It’s exciting to make this opportunity available to our residents,” McGee said. “This is technology infrastructure that will enhance education and small business creation, attract high-tech business investment, jobs and new families while boosting home values and improving the quality of life in our city.”

Pre-registration remains open in all nine C Spire fiber cities. Residents are required to make a $10 refundable deposit and indicate their interest for specific services. As long as they continue to make progress, Meena said the company plans to keep pre-registration open in the nine cities through the end of the year.

For C Spire customers, the 1 Gbps Internet access will be available for $70 a month, $90 a month for combined Internet and home phone, $130 for Internet and HD digital TV and $150 a month for the entire package of all three services. Non customers will be required to pay an additional $10 a month on all packages.

To pre-register or learn more about C Spire Fiber to the Home, visit www.cspire.com/fiberhome.

About C Spire

C Spire is a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides world-class, customer-inspired wireless communications, 1 Gigabit consumer Internet access as well as a full suite of dedicated Internet, wireless, IP Voice, data and cloud services for businesses. This news release and other announcements are available at www.cspire.com/news. For more information about C Spire, visit www.cspire.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cspire or Twitter at www.twitter.com/cspire.

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