C Spire on Thursday announced that the company is ramping up an unprecedented growth project with a $1 billion investment over the next three years – the largest capital spend in its history — to accelerate the deployment of all-fiber Gigabit broadband internet.
The announcement, made in a virtual press conference, includes a $500 million investment in Alabama, going towards the critical expansion of fiber infrastructure in the Yellowhammer State.
On hand to unveil the big news were Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL); Hu Meena, president and CEO of C Spire; Katie Boyd Britt, president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama (BCA); and Ben Moncrief, managing director-Alabama and SVP-Strategic Relations of C Spire.
Between Alabama and Mississippi, the total investment will reportedly provide high-speed broadband services to over 200,000 homes and businesses by 2025.
In Alabama alone, C Spire plans to deliver ultra-fast service to over two dozen markets through this project.
Meena advised that the investment is expected to generate at least 250 new direct jobs in Alabama and result in millions of dollars in secondary economic benefits for both states through contracts and agreements with firms who will help C Spire with the massive infrastructure deployment and construction efforts.
The announcement comes after C Spire recently connected its first Alabama customers in Jasper, and Meena on Thursday noted that service will begin in Trussville next month.
C Spire’s broadband expansion efforts in Alabama continue to be made possible by its partnership with Alabama Power Company in which the internet service provider uses Alabama Power’s existing fiber infrastructure for what is called “the middle mile.” This type of partnership between an electric utility provider and broadband services provider was enabled by 2018’s HB 400; that year’s SB 90 was also a crucial piece of legislation expanding broadband access across Alabama.
“This is a game-changer, helping grow the economy and improving the quality of life for everyone,” Meena remarked during the virtual announcement event.
“We have a strong reputation of providing world-class products and services to consumers and businesses and this investment signals that we intend to deliver these benefits faster than ever before,” he added, noting this emphasized the company’s longterm commitment to Alabama.
Ivey lauded the C Spire investment, before noting how the COVID-19 pandemic has especially underlined the need for increased high-speed, affordable broadband access across the state. Benefits of broadband infrastructure include strengthening the state’s economy, education system and health care options, the governor explained.
“C Spire’s investment and commitment to the expansion of all-fiber broadband services will help us make a difference in bridging the digital divide, which is a real challenge in our state, especially in rural areas,” Ivey stated, calling this “an exciting day for our state.”
“Broadband internet connectivity should be available to every Alabamian, regardless of where their home is located or what their level of income may be,” she stressed. “I have no doubt that C Spire is on the way to positively impacting the lives of millions in the great state of Alabama.”
Near the end of her comments, Ivey praised BCA’s Britt as a strong voice for jobs and businesses in Alabama.
“Today marks an incredible milestone for Alabama,” the governor concluded.
Speaking next, Britt noted that up to 5,000 businesses could benefit from C Spire’s announcement.
“As a member of Governor Ivey’s broadband working group, I have seen how crucial it is have the availability of fiber-fed broadband internet connectivity to every member of our state,” she remarked. “And I want to ‘thank you’ to the governor and the legislature for making sure that we prioritize and are ready to take advantage of opportunities like we see here today.”
Britt advised, “From our economic development efforts to our state’s most rural areas, there is a significant need for this critical investment. In order to create 21st-century jobs and attract a 21st-century workforce, we must have 21st-century infrastructure.”
“This decision by C Spire will help the BCA achieve our goals of growing the state’s $228 billion economy, creating jobs, and encouraging investment in Alabama,” Britt said, highlighting that the company’s investment will help the organization further its “mission to create an environment where all businesses can grow and flourish.”
“This expansion of broadband internet connectivity will only make our state an even more desirable place to do business,” she added. “C Spire’s investment in Alabama meets a critical need now — and one that will be forever growing in our future.”
Meena also noted that C Spire plans to move quickly and aggressively this year to bring cutting-edge broadband services to more Alabamians, including by leveraging recent acquisitions such as Harbor Communications to accelerate expansion.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn