November 4, 2013 10:01:15 AM
Starkville is one of nine Mississippi communities now vying to become the first recipient of C Spire's high-speed Internet roll-out program, company officials announced Monday in Ridgeland.
Out of 33 municipalities that entered the Fiber to the Home initiative, C Spire also picked Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake, McComb, Quitman and Ridgeland.
The nine cities now advance to a second phase of competition in which C Spire will use preregistration percentages in designated neighborhoods that measure interest in the service. Once percentage goals are reached, C Spire then plans to begin construction in those areas. A refundable $10 deposit is required in the preregistration process, which will be hosted at cspire.com/fiberhome.
The Fiber to the Home program represents a significant investment that will deliver fiber optic Internet capabilities in Mississippi. It will offer communities, from businesses to individual residents, access to 1-gigabyte-per-second (1,000 megabytes) upload and download speeds.
The 1-gigabyte service is expected to be up and running by mid-2014.
C Spire originally announced it would pick a launch city based upon applicants' progressive, business-minded leadership; cost-saving agreements with local governments; and measured demand shown in the preregistration process. A company release states the number of partner communities was increased during the first phase of the initiative because of the strength, quality and comprehensive nature of applicants' submissions.
Finalists were picked by a review panel that weighed a number of factors, including the municipality's proximity to C Spire's fiber optic infrastructure, community mobilization capacities and cost-saving, construction-facilitating incentives.
"We are truly impressed with the overwhelming show of support for C Spire's Fiber to the Home deployment and the tremendous interest and demand for making this service a reality for the residents in these communities," said Hu Meena, C Spire president and CEO, in a release. "The positive response we've received only strengthens our determination to bring (ultra-fast Internet) and the limitless possibilities that come along with it to as many people as we can because we know that this service has the power to transform our state into a hub for technology investment and economic growth."
C Spire will continue working with those municipalities that were not chosen for the next phase of the competition to "ensure that all ... remain actively engaged in the process and keep the demand and excitement alive for upcoming phases," Meena said in the release.
Gov. Phil Bryant, who joined municipal representatives at C Spire's announcement, proclaimed Monday as "Get Fiber First" and "Gimmie Fiber" day in Mississippi. During September's Fiber to the Home launch announcement, Bryant said high-speed access to data could help transform the state into the Silicon South many envision.
"Recently, I proclaimed November as Innovation Month, and I can't think of any better example than C Spire, which is helping ensure Mississippi is a leader in technology," Bryant said in a release." C Spire's commitment in bringing fiber technology to communities across the state will help us compete in a global market."
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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