Quitman, Miss. (November 10, 2014) – Quitman, a small 2,300 population town in rural Mississippi, may soon be one of the nation’s most technologically advanced cities as C Spire activates the first customers on its ultra-high speed 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second) broadband Internet network.
C Spire, a Ridgeland-based diversified telecommunications and technology services company, turned up service today for its first commercial Fiber to the Home customers in the town, which has struggled economically in recent years with job losses, plant closings and population shifts to bigger cities as the standard of living plummeted in the Clarke County community.
All of that is likely to change soon, though, as the town is the first in Mississippi and one of only a handful in the U.S. with access to fiber-based broadband Internet that is 100 times faster than the national average along with super HD TV and related home phone services from C Spire.
Local government, business and community leaders joined C Spire executives to celebrate the historic step for the town at a news conference Monday outside the home of Quitman residents Roger and Karen Kennedy, who are among the first Gigabit Internet customers in the town.
“We see a bright future for our town with widespread availability of high speed Internet,” said Quitman Mayor Eddie Fulton, a major force behind the city’s efforts to secure and build the next-generation network. “Thanks to C Spire’s investment, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move the needle in a different direction.”
Kennedy said residents are excited about getting improved services and for the prospect of helping the city become a hub for technology investment, economic expansion and a better quality of life. “For Quitman, it’s all there in front of us now,” he said.
The city was one of the first to qualify for the next-generation services earlier this year along with areas in the cities of Starkville and Ridgeland. C Spire plans to turn up service for its first commercial customers in those two Mississippi cities later this week.
C Spire and local officials were jointed at the news conference by key technology leaders and advocates, who discussed how the game-changing technology will benefit residents, businesses and students.
Innovate Mississippi CEO Tony Jeff said the lightning fast Internet speeds mean home connections now rival or, in many cases, outpace enterprise network connections at work locations. “The implications of a robust, widely available and ultra-fast Internet infrastructure are potentially huge for local, regional and state economic advances and technology investment,” he said.
One key ingredient to success is the need to educate and advise consumers about the capabilities of the infrastructure for individuals as well as the broader community, according to Roberto Gallardo, director of the Intelligent Community Institute, which is part of the Center for Technology Outreach and the Center for Government and Community Development at Mississippi State University. Gallardo recently forged an agreement with the New York-based Intelligent Community Foundation to start an Intelligent Community Institute in Mississippi that will help cities better understand how to use the 21st century infrastructure.
The company is on a mission to move Quitman and other Mississippi cities from worst to first in national rankings for average Internet speeds and consumer access to super-fast broadband services, according to Suzy Hays, senior vice president of Consumer Markets.
“Fiber to the Home can be a transformative technology for communities, serving as a platform for innovation and a host of new Internet applications and experiences yet to be imagined,” Hays said. “We’re determined to show the world that Quitman and these other cities are ready to be a catalyst for technology investment, economic growth and job creation.”
Homeowner pre-registration in the cities began in December. Since that time, local government, community and business leaders have rallied residents in Quitman, Ridgeland and Starkville to sign up at levels that qualified multiple areas in each city for the service. Construction started in May in the first neighborhoods.
Hays said the strong support and engagement of cities is the primary reason for the fast-moving initiative’s success thus far. Since announcing the cities last November, C Spire has moved from vision to reality in 12 months. In contrast, Google, one of the largest technology companies in the world, took nearly three years before it selected and began offering Gigabit fiber services 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,” she said.
For C Spire customers, the 1 Gbps Internet access is 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 must pay an additional $10 a month on all packages.