C Spire is using the Google Fiber plan as a blueprint for building its own fiber-to-the-home network that the company hopes will eventually blanket Mississippi.
C Spire executives are hopeful that a high-speed fiber broadband network could help improve Mississippi’s credit rating and help turn things around for the Magnolia state.
Google’s chief financial officer, Patrick Pichette, has already been singing the praises of what a Google Fiber network can do for communities. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference last month, he said that Kansas City has received a higher bond rating as a result of Google’s investment in an ultra-high-speed network in the city, according to the website Telecompetitor.com.
Currently, Google is only committed to building its network in three cities. And even though the company said last month that it’s considering building its fiber gigabit network in 34 other cities in nine separate regions across the nation, the truth is that Google Fiber will never be in every city or community in the US
C Spire’s move to build a fiber network using the business plan outlined by Google is an example of how Google’s broadband ambitions are having a much wider effect on the broadband market than the few cities it’s chosen to deploy its network.
Indeed, last year at a Fiber to the Home Council event in Kansas City, where Google deployed its first fiber network, Milo Medin, vice president of access services for Google who is heading up Google’s fiber projects, encouraged other cities and other companies to take a look at Google’s business and replicate it elsewhere.
Ben Moncrief, C Spire, attended this meeting and walked away inspired. He said he already knew that C Spire had the assets to build such a network. But what the company lacked at that point was a strong business plan.
C Spire is a regional wireless operator that owns its own infrastructure. Since 2003, the company has invested more than $1 billion in network infrastructure improvements, including upgrading its cellular backhaul network with fiber to support 4G wireless services. As a result, C Spire has access to more than 4,000 route miles of fiber deployed to some 1,800 cell sites around the state, most of which are located in large population centers.
“We already had most of the fiber in the ground,” Moncrief said. “What we needed was a business model that took enough of the risk out of building that last mile portion of the network. And that’s what I came away with from my time in Kansas City talking to Google and others. The crowd-sourcing model can work.”
The Google Playbook
The heart of Google’s strategy is simple: Find communities that really see the value in an ultra high-speed broadband network. While this may sound rather elementary, in the past companies deploying capital intensive infrastructure such as these fiber networks, almost had to guess where demand for their services would be.
But Google has changed the way new entrants address markets. The company doesn’t just research consumer demand, it actually asks city governments and citizens themselves to commit to the network as a condition of its construction.
They ask people to pre-signup for service in order to ensure critical volume for each neighborhood.
The second major piece of Google’s strategy is to forgo offering several different tiers of service. Instead it offers a single tier of service: 1Gbps downloads. And the company offers this service at the affordable price of $70 a month with increased pricing for adding TV service.
This is the exact same strategy that C Spire is employing as it builds its fiber network in communities throughout Mississippi. Like Google, the C Spire service has a single broadband speed: 1Gbps for $80 a month or $70 a month if you’re also a C Spire wireless customer.