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Cotton District, downtown qualify for new Internet service


Carl Smith



Starkville's Cotton District/Downtown/Historic Central "fiberhood" has qualified for C Spire's high-speed, fiber optic Internet service that promises a 1 gigabit up-and-down connection for residential users, the company announced Thursday. 


The neighborhood exceeded its company-mandated 45 percent pre-registration mark for Fiber to the Home on Wednesday, joining South Montgomery and Timbercove/College Station/Polos "fiberhoods" as the only areas qualified for engineering and construction efforts in Starkville. 


The area includes Starkville's central business district and a large concentration of student apartments. 


The Hiwassee/Reed Road/Hospital area now moves as the next likely neighborhood to move into the construction phase as 20 percent of the area's residents have pre-registered for C Spire's service. Starkville's six other "fiberhoods" have yet to yield signups from at least 15 percent of their individual populations. 


Starkville's three "fiberhoods," four others in Horn Lake and the entire town of Quitman, have qualified for C Spire's high-speed Internet service. Construction began in the South Montgomery area this month and is expected to begin soon in the other two areas. C Spire began laying fiber optic cable in Ridgeland last month and in Quitman earlier this month. 


"We're pleased that...Starkville is continuing to show momentum and that the excitement and anticipation of Internet at the speed of light is growing there and in other Mississippi cities," said Suzy Hays, C Spire senior vice president of consumer markets. "Fiber to the Home is a next-generation technology that will help Starkville and other Mississippi cities become hubs for future investment and growth." 


In November, company officials announced that Batesville, Clinton, Corinth, Hattiesburg, Horn Lake, McComb, Ridgeland and Starkville advanced to the second round of the Fiber to the Home competition, in which the company uses pre-registration - a $10 fee - percentages in designated neighborhoods to measure interest in the service. 


Company officials used geography and population density to divide towns into "fiberhoods." For example, the entire town of Quitman, with its 2010 census population of 2,323, qualified as a single "fiberhood," while Starkville had a population of 24,360 during the 2012 estimate and was subsequently divided into 10 neighborhoods. 


Officials have lauded the service since its announcement last year, saying the high-speed, residential Internet connection will transform cities and provide a significant boon to economic and community development. 


"(The Cotton District 'fiberhood') is the cultural center of our city and the first area that's not entirely residential to qualify for the service. I'm excited that we will be bringing this advanced technology...into downtown Starkville and about the new opportunities for creative, innovative uses of all that C Spire Fiber to the Home has to offer," Mayor Parker Wiseman said in a release. "Hopefully as construction continues and as consumers begin to experience the service, the momentum will continue to build in those areas and throughout the city." 


Starkville and C Spire continued to cozy up together in business terms last month when aldermen approved a telecommunications contract for Internet services for the city's new city hall. The contract will take the place of a MetroCast deal and provide the city savings and increased Internet speeds. 


Under the new terms, Starkville will spend $1,000 monthly from its communications budget line item for 100-megabyte Internet access. It currently pays $100 more per month for a 10-megabyte connection. 


Starkville will partition a portion of the access and dedicate it to improve public Wi-Fi connections. The city previously rolled out such public access downtown and is expected to complete a similar project this year at the Starkville Sportsplex.


Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch



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