September 25, 2013 10:08:25 AM
Carl Smith - [email protected]
Starkville was one of the first Mississippi cities Tuesday to put their name in the hat to become C Spire's first recipient of ultra-fast Internet access.
C Spire officials launched Fiber to the Home, a substantial investment that will develop fiber optic Internet capabilities in the state. The program will bring communities, including households, 1 gigabyte-per-second (1,000 megabytes) upload and download speeds. TV and home phone services will be added to the program at a later date.
But the plan's initial step: identify a Mississippi city which will first receive those capabilities. C Spire is expected to announce its target city this fall and provide service by 2014. The support of local entities and resident pre-registration will be key factors in the announcement's timing, according to a release. C Spire will pick a launch city based upon applicants' progressive, business-minded leadership; cost-saving agreements with local governments; and measured demand shown in the pre-registration process.
"(Fiber to the Home) will help us make sure that we become the Silicon South we've all dreamed of," Gov. Phil Bryant said in recorded remarks. "This means economic development for the state of Mississippi. Companies that come here expect to have this type of technology at hand, and C Spire's hard work will make sure we will be there to compete on a global market 100 times faster than the other guys."
A company spokesperson could not identify Tuesday how many cities submitted intentions to join the program, but Starkville officials filed paperwork shortly after the morning's announcement.
Mayor Parker Wiseman and Greater Starkville Development Partnership CEO Jennifer Gregory both confirmed they will soon file more documentation detailing numerous community aspects, including city infrastructure and potential impact.
There is no direct cost to participate in the program beyond any potential waived fees, in-kind services or abatements a city might provide.
A project work session for interested communities is scheduled for Monday in Ridgeland.
"We will offer everything that's legally and practically available to support this initiative," Wiseman said. "Having these capabilities first allows us to continue marketing Starkville as a technology-driven city and to show off our commitment to research and advancement. That's what our economic development strategy has been tailored to, and this would provide a significant tool to recruit these high-tech companies that require these capabilities."
"Not only is this a potential huge leap forward for residents and could greatly impact our quality of life, it also provides a cutting-edge tool for research, business, health care and our schools," Gregory added.
Potential customers can express their interest in Fiber to Home at cspire.com/getfiberfirst beginning Monday. Communities have up to Oct. 21 to submit their interest in the program. Early submissions, C Spire documentation states, will have priority over late responses.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch