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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Jon McNeill, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez

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New C Spire World-Class Business Enterprise Data Center Built Like Fort Knox

It may not house the nation’s gold reserves, but the $23 million initial phase of C Spire’s new world-class data center in northeast Mississippi is rapidly evolving into the gold standard for data center construction in the United States.

C Spire executives, architects and contractors hosted business leaders, economic developers and news media representatives today for a briefing and tour on construction progress for the initial phase of the center, which promises to boost regional business technology infrastructure and spur new investment and expansion.

When it opens later this year, the center will be one of only 52 in the U.S. with a Tier 3 or 4 rating, the highest in the industry based on data center certifications by the Uptime Institute. Most of the centers in the two top-tier categories nationwide are owned and operated solely by large private businesses or government agencies and used only for internal operations. C Spire’s Tier 3-plus facility will be the premiere data center in the Southeast with ample commercial space available for businesses and government agencies and the only one in its class and capability within 250 miles of its location.

The building is located on a 6.5 acre site at the sprawling Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park in Starkville, Mississippi. C Spire began site excavation, grading and foundation work last November and plans to complete construction on the 23,800 square foot initial phase by this fall, when Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company and other firms are expected to begin using the center.

The $23 million price tag for the initial phase of the center covers the cost of the building and state-of-the-art electrical, cooling and security systems. C Spire expects to nearly double that investment with planned purchases for advanced IT hardware and software solutions at the facility. Two additional phases are planned for future growth.

As examples of its eye-popping capacity, giant diesel generators and multiple independent power feeds at the center will produce 1.5 megawatts of power, enough to light 1,500 homes, according to Dustin Smith, senior project manager for Brasfield & Gorrie, the Birmingham, Alabama-based general contractor for the facility.

The list of building materials for the facility reads like one for a giant skyscraper with 1,880 tons of cast-in-place concrete, 30 tons of reinforced steel, 450 tons of roof double-tees and 980 tons of pre-cast beams, columns and wall panels, all designed to meet the most rigorous standards for data storage, security and disaster recovery. Like Fort Knox, the facility will be virtually destruction proof with double 14 foot thick external steel-reinforced concrete walls welded to massive buried pylons and designed to block flying debris, Smith said.

The center is built to withstand the most extreme weather conditions and natural disasters and is located in one of the lowest earthquake risk zones in the Southeast, according to Brian Caraway, senior vice president of Enterprise Markets for C Spire. “Our center and the solutions it houses will be world-class,” he said. “Our customers can rest easy that their data will be safe and secure and that business continuity will be assured – no matter what happens or the external circumstances.”

C Spire COO Kevin Hankins said the data center industry and computing solutions have advanced at a “staggering pace” in recent years. “Unfortunately, the industry has also grown further and further away from its customers. We are changing that. C Spire will know its customers intimately, we will be highly flexible in tailoring services to meet their needs and the level of attention and support they will receive will be unmatched. This combination of value and service doesn’t exist anywhere in the industry.”

While other data centers in the region may make similar security and reliability claims, their design, construction and operation do not support the promises, Hankins said. “C Spire is building the only facility that will ensure your company’s data is secure and available.”

Local officials in Starkville and Oktibbeha County, who provided tax incentives to support the project, said the facility is the largest private sector development in the region’s history. “This significant private sector technology infrastructure investment by a great Mississippi company will help us build a strong economic future for this region,” said Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman.

Along with its location in a low-risk geographic zone, the center boasts direct access to C Spire’s ring-protected fiber optic network and will be managed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year by the company’s locally-based, award-winning IT staff. C Spire has been named one of InformationWeek’s top technology innovators for three years in a row.

Other services C Spire plans to offer at the center include colocation, managed hosting, computing, storage, disaster recovery, enterprise cloud services, network and connectivity. In addition, the center will feature the latest security infrastructure, complete disaster contingency plans, a C Spire solutions center and management office and conference room space for traveling client IT staff.

Hankins said C Spire will sell a comprehensive suite of data center services through its C Spire Business Solutions unit, which is fully staffed with account management and technical support teams who provide “world-class” customer service. “At C Spire, we always put the customer first. Our name - C Spire – literally means ‘customer inspired,’” he said, adding that many enterprise data customers prefer locally-based service options. “Our clients will enjoy a level of service and partnering that is unmatched in the industry.”

General contractor for the data center project is Brasfield and Gorrie, LLC of Birmingham. Architects are Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. of Atlanta, Piper O’Brien Herr of Alpharetta, Georgia and Dale Partners in Jackson, Mississippi. Civil engineering services for the center will be provided by Pritchard Engineering in Starkville, Mississippi.

C Spire currently operates two other data centers in Mississippi – one in Ridgeland and the other in downtown Jackson. For more information about C Spire’s new data center plans, C Spire cloud services or C Spire Business Solutions, visit www.cspire.com/cloudservices.

About C Spire

C Spire is a diversified telecommunications and technology services company that provides world-class personal service and a superior comprehensive suite of customer-inspired wireless communications, high-speed Internet access and a range of other telecommunications products and services to consumers and businesses with a personal focus. 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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