John Howell editorial 8/5/2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

One Gbps offered to Batesville for $10 and no court costs

Folks down in Lafayette, Louisiana have been utilizing high speed fiber optic internet since 2009 when the city-owned electric utility brought the system online.

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But fiber optic internet didn’t happen there without a fight. Lafayette had to fight BellSouth (now ATT) and Cox Cable all the way to the Louisiana Supreme Court before they won the right to provide the super fast internet service to residents and businesses.

What happened in Lafayette has been repeated all over the country where local governments have attempted to provide what the telecoms have not: ultra high speed internet.

Google Fiber is another model for how high speed internet is reaching homes and business. They started with nationwide competition among cities before they selected Kansas City for its fiber to the home initiative. Austin, TX and Provo, UT are now Google Fiber cities with Portland, OR; San Jose, CA; Phoenix, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT, Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, NC now listed as potential Google Fiber cities.

And Batesville — not as a potential Google Fiber city but as a potential C Spire Fiber city.

C Spire came along with this innovative challenge to Mississippi cities that would bring 1 Gbps internet speed, upload and download, to homes in Mississippi cities. Batesville qualified as one of the first nine cities in the state to which it would be made available — if — and this has become the big if: A sufficient number of residents in three of Batesville’s five fiberhoods would pre-register with a $10, refundable deposit.

The initial service that would become available when the fiber optic cable gets connected to homes is excellent TV and phone service in addition to internet speeds far faster than we’ve ever experienced.

But the spinoff from those fiber optic cables would provide almost unlimited potential for business and creative technology that we can imagine and some we cannot. Don’t take my word for it. Look on the web and read about what high speed fiber optic has down for Chattanooga, Lafayette, Kansas City. Property values have increased where the fiber is installed. Creative startup businesses have developed.

It can happen here at no cost to the city, without a court fight for the right, with only a $10 online pre-registration. And that’s refundable.