C Spire on Thursday morning began accepting consumer pre-orders for its ultra-fast, fiber-based Gigabit speed internet services in parts of Jasper and Trussville, Alabama.
The announcement was made in a virtual press conference. Speakers included: Ben Moncrief, C Spire’s senior vice president for strategic relations; Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper); State Rep. Connie Rowe (R-Jasper), vice chair of the House Republican Caucus; Jasper Mayor David O’Mary; Trussville Mayor Buddy Choat; and Arnab Ghosal, connectivity and innovation manager for Alabama Power Company.
C Spire is a privately-held Mississippi-based telecommunications and technology company, with no affiliation with the gas company Spire. Alabama Power and C Spire in recent months announced a new partnership that would bring the internet provider’s services into the Yellowhammer State for the first time.
Alabama Power’s existing fiber infrastructure will be used for what is called “the middle mile,” while C Spire will in some areas build out “the last mile,” which is an industry term meaning the final portion connecting the service to a consumer’s residence or business (the length is not always a mile or even close to it — it can be a matter of feet or several miles).
This type of partnership, in which a broadband provider can utilize an electric utility’s existing infrastructure and right-of-ways, was made possible through legislation championed by the likes of the Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition in the legislature’s 2019 regular session — HB 400, which was sponsored by State Rep. Randall Shedd (R-Cullman) and championed by Reed. Additionally, SB 90 was passed to expand eligibility for and update a state grant program for broadband expansion.
Ghosal, an engineer, detailed the unique benefits — including reliability and security — of fiber-based services.
“For Alabama Power, any time we can have an opportunity to serve the state, serve our customers and the community, it’s a privilege and an honor…” he added.
As explained previously, exactly where C Spire expands its internet services into Alabama will mostly be driven by consumer demand. Municipal leaders, business owners and residents from across the state have been encouraged to express their interest in the services, which resulted in Thursday’s announcement.
Jasper Mayor O’Mary was the first city leader to engage in the process more than eight months ago when the companies’ partnership was first announced in his city. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin was next, expressing his strong support for expanding high-speed fiber broadband service across his metropolitan area, including in locales outside of the Magic City itself, such as Trussville. With Mayor Choat’s support, that city has now indeed jumped on board.
Thursday’s announcement outlined that consumers in the northern portion of Jasper and in several neighborhoods across Trussville will be able to immediately place pre-orders for Gigabit speed, fiber-based internet; Smart WiFi powered by Plume; Home Protection Plan; and digital home phone service online here. Businesses interested in ultra-fast internet access can complete the address validation form found online here to see what services they can receive.
“We’re excited about bringing high-capacity fiber broadband services, which rely on a transformational and truly revolutionary technology infrastructure that will boost home and business values, broaden entertainment opportunities, help expand local economies and improve the quality of life for Alabamians,” stated Moncrief, who is the managing director in Alabama for C Spire.
A release Thursday from C Spire detailed that parts of Jasper will technically be the first to receive the new service offerings, with areas in Trussville second.
To make the pre-order process simple and quick, homeowners only need to provide their service address and email and select the services they want and need. Once construction is finished later this year, consumers can complete their order and schedule installation.
While portions of the two Alabama municipalities will be the first to receive these services in coming months, other parts of these cities as well as additional communities, including Helena and Tuscaloosa, have executed franchise agreements with C Spire and are already on the company’s drawing board for 2021.
“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,” Moncrief explained.
As part of its expansion efforts, the company continues to actively solicit interest among other Yellowhammer State communities who want more reliable and faster broadband internet service based on the crowdsourcing model, which relies on homeowner, business and renter demand to drive adoption.
According to the company, C Spire Fiber has no data caps, cancellation fees or long-term contracts.
O’Mary said Jasper plans to leverage the broadband infrastructure to help continue the city’s progress to improve the quality of life for residents and the economic environment for businesses.
“C Spire Fiber will help us continue to transform our community into a 21st digital powerhouse,” he commented. O’Mary advised that as a career commercial banker, he views high-quality, reliable broadband as crucial to “position our city for growth in a rapidly changing world.”
Rowe echoed O’Mary’s plans and said the city is poised to reap the benefits of broader industry expansion, job opportunities and economic growth.
“Gigabit broadband internet is a game-changer for Jasper and other towns who are trying to grow and diversify their economy,” she stated.
“As we are moving forward, this is just going to be a substantial difference in our overall success as a community,” Rowe added.
Trussville plans to use the fiber infrastructure to even further offer residents an improved quality of life with modern amenities and grow the town’s already strong commercial and industrial base.
“Jobs follow this type of investment and that’s what our community needs,” Choat noted. “I’m excited that Alabama Power and C Spire gave us … this opportunity, and I promise you that we will take advantage of it and it’ll provide great dividends for the City of Trussville.”
Reed emphasized that the partnership with C Spire, Alabama Power and other stakeholders will help the state achieve its critical broadband objectives.
“Broadband internet service, in my opinion, is one of the number-one most important things for the future of the state of Alabama,” the senator said. “It impacts us in every area of our life.”
“No matter where you live, every single student, apartment dweller, family, worker and business owner in Alabama deserves access to fast, reliable internet and C Spire is helping make that a reality with this announcement today,” Reed remarked.
You can learn more about C Spire Fiber’s expansion into Alabama here.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn