Mississippi-based telecommunications company C Spire announced Thursday that it has begun taking customer pre-orders in Alabama in the first two cities where it will provide high-speed broadband internet later this year.
The company has franchise agreements to expand its service to additional sections of those communities as well as to Helena and Tuscaloosa in 2021. It is soliciting interest from other communities and will continue to expand where there is enough demand, it said.
C Spire’s service is delivered over fiber optic lines that provide speeds of 1,000 megabits per second, or one gigabit. The average fastest internet speed in Alabama is 112 megabits per second.
Alabama is ranked 38 in the nation for internet coverage and speed, according to BroadbandNow, a group that studies and advocates for access to broadband internet. The state has 72 percent terrestrial broadband access. That compares to first-place New Jersey at 98.1 percent and last-place Alaska at 61 percent.
“Fiber’s symmetric speeds – for example 1 Gig upstream and 1 Gig downstream – are particularly important for interactive learning, remote work and telehealth applications beyond streaming video or surfing the web, which rely on fast download-only internet speeds,” said Ben Moncrief, C Spire’s managing director in Alabama.
Gigabit internet can accommodate dozens of devices in a home or business while using only a fraction of broadband capacity, which means no hiccups no matter how many devices are in use, said C Spire spokesperson Dave Miller.
He has more than 60 devices connected to his home’s gigabit network, he said, and can add more without concern about losing speed or streaming quality. It also adds to a home’s value, he said.
The company doesn’t require contracts or have caps on data usage, Miller said.
The service will soon be available to residents and businesses in northern Jasper and in neighborhoods scattered around Trussville.
Jasper Mayor David O’Mary said that Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle attributed his city’s growth to access to high-speed internet, and O’Mary wants the same for his community.
“C Spire Fiber will help us continue to transform our community into a 21st Century digital powerhouse,” he said.
In Trussville, Mayor Buddy Choat said he pursued the service with a sense of urgency.
The Birmingham suburb just completed a development plan for the next 20 years and infrastructure is a key component. Including high-speed broadband in that promises to improve quality of life and allow for the kinds of amenities that make a community attractive to new businesses and industries, he said.
“Jobs follow this type of investment, and that’s what our community needs,” Choat said.