cspire businessC Spire’s announcement that it plans to build a $20 million data center in its home state of Mississippi, announced today, doesn’t mention the company’s announcement last week that it plans to deploy gigabit FTTH to Mississippi “communities that want it the most.” But one can’t help wondering if the two announcements are inter-related.

C Spire for some time has had a separate division that operates a fiber network serving business customers. And the company now seems to have set a new strategic path that aims to maximize that business by emphasizing opportunities in the broadband and business markets.

The move, in part, may be a reflection of the difficult environment that regional wireless carriers face today. But it also illustrates the potential for data centers in rural areas – providing the right conditions exist.

“Along with its location in a low-risk geographic zone, the center boasts direct access to C Spire’s ring-protected fiber network and will be managed 24 hours, 7 days a week and 365 days a year by the company’s locally-based, award-winning IT staff,” boasts C Spire in its announcement.

All three of those factors are critical in supporting a successful rural data center.

South Dakota Network is an example of a group of rural carriers that leveraged a remote location in a low-risk geographic zone to attract businesses from outside the community seeking a backup data center location.

Iowa-based Caleris and Montana-based VisionNet  are example of companies whose strength is in tapping its local talent pool to support high-tech clients located in other parts of the country.

And the importance of reliable high-speed network connectivity to a data center needs no explanation.

The local community
The C Spire data center will be located in Starkville, Miss., which had a population of 24,000 in 2010. It will be a highly secure Tier 3-plus facility and will begin serving customers in 2014, the company said.

Services that C Spire will deliver from the data center include colocation, managed hosting, computing, storage, disaster recovery, enterprise cloud services, network and connectivity.

It would be no surprise to see Starkville as one of the initial communities to receive a C Spire gigabit FTTH network. The community has demonstrated its high-tech focus in having persuaded C Spire to locate there. And I would expect it to lobby just as hard for a gigabit network.

Rural communities that succeed at luring businesses from outside the community to locate there often find that executives want connectivity at home that is on par with what they receive at the office.