By Ben Moncrief, guest op-ed
Alabama loves excellence. Nowhere is this on greater display than the typical fall Saturday when folks across this beautiful state watch their teams do battle on the college gridiron. Whether it’s down on The Plains, in the shadow of Denny Chimes, or at the annual Classic in the Magic City, the standard is excellence and the goal is to win. Historic, consistent records of success are the result.
This consistent level of success – one that captures the entire nation’s attention – didn’t happen by accident. It comes from a longtime commitment to the pursuit (some may even say it’s “a process”) of excellence. It’s about the long hours of preparation, the discipline to chase perfection in the execution of every movement, and an untiring determination and drive by players, coaches, and fans to win. Together these create a consistent desire and expectation for excellence.
At C Spire, we bring that same approach to fiber optic broadband service. Our proud history of growing the nation’s 8th largest fiber-to-the-home provider in neighboring Mississippi is the proof. Our work to deliver high capacity fiber optic broadband services to millions of Mississippians demonstrates our commitment to do the hard work of building highly reliable fiber optic networks, delivering unmatched local customer service, and the commitment to invest in the communities we serve in pursuit of perfection and an expectation of excellence.
C Spire hasn’t come to Alabama for a participation ribbon. We are here to expand on our passionate commitment to build and provide the best available broadband services over the demonstrated reliability of fiber optic infrastructure.
Today, Alabama needs far more accessible fiber optic infrastructure – not just in its biggest cities, but across small towns and rural areas of the state. The need for fiber optic infrastructure has been thrust into sharp focus over the last several months as a global pandemic threatens the 2020 college football season, forced employees and students to work and learn from home and for doctors and patients to rely on telemedicine for even the most routine of healthcare interactions. Today, nearly every aspect of Alabama’s economy depends on the strength, capacity, and reliability of its broadband infrastructure.
At the core of Alabama’s connectivity challenges for schools, students, hospitals, patients and millions of remote workers is its relative lack of access to fiber optic infrastructure as compared to other states in the Southeast region. Today, more than 40% of Mississippians have access to all-fiber home services and approximately 35% of residents in Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida have access to all-fiber. In Alabama, that number is just 21%.
Alabama’s policymakers should be congratulated for the steps they’ve already taken to address this competitive disadvantage. Working with groups like the Alabama Rural Broadband Coalition (made up of community, business, and government leaders dedicated to job creation, economic development and business growth) the state’s legislative leadership and Gov. Kay Ivey have done good work to make access to fast, reliable and affordable internet a priority. Together, they have established effective broadband grant programs and loosened antiquated infrastructure deployment rules. But there’s more work to be done. Alabama still ranks 38th in the nation in broadband access.
C Spire has decided to do something about that. Just last month, we began accepting pre-orders for our all-fiber Gigiabit-speed internet access in Jasper and Trussville. And, we have plans to offer these services in many more Alabama communities soon.
We are also bringing substantial middle-mile and long-haul fiber optic infrastructure to Alabama – investments that will not only improve access for new customers, but will spur national cable and telephone incumbents to compete with improved services and lower prices. We’re shaking things up in the internet service market in Alabama. Consumers and businesses will see the benefits.
As a leading diversified telecommunications and technology company, we have several advantages over competing ISPs, including superior net promoter scores, quick recovery after natural disasters and our world-class, locally-based customer service.
Our biggest weapon, though, is our commitment to an all-fiber infrastructure for both our long haul and local distribution networks that connect more homes and businesses to next-generation, services and will help transform the state into a 21st century digital powerhouse.
Ultra-fast, all-fiber networks offer symmetric speeds – a necessity in today’s remote work, learning and healthcare world where users are contributing to the internet as much as they download. It’s no longer just about how fast you can download or stream a movie or video.
Now it’s how well your video stream, your large engineering drawings, maps, photos, your participation in an online class uploads to the internet. Only fiber can offer the same upload and download speeds. Not cable and certainly not wireless or legacy copper line “DSL” service.
This is an exciting time to be delivering advanced, future-proof broadband services in Alabama. The needs and opportunities are great, but the goal is even bigger – provide more Alabamians more access more quickly to the fiber optic infrastructure they need to learn, work, live, and thrive. It’s time to pursue excellence in broadband service in Alabama. C Spire is already putting in the work.
Ben Moncrief is Managing Director of Alabama and Senior Vice President of Strategic Relations for
C Spire, a diversified telecommunications and technology services company.