If you build it, ‘they’ will come

Last month, C Spire made a bold announcement that we are poised and ready to deploy 1 gigabit per second (Gig) broadband Internet access to homes in communities across Mississippi.

As C Spire’s CEO, it’s ultimately my decision where to take our company and what to offer our customers. It’s my responsibility to provide the very best service and continue to stay ahead our customers’ needs and desires. I take that responsibility seriously.

Also, as the leader of a Mississippi-based corporation, a graduate of two Mississippi universities, a resident of Hinds County and a Clarksdale native, my roots are firmly planted here in the Magnolia State, and my passion is to help move it forward as best I can.

I believe we can move Mississippi forward and transform our entire region into a magnet for technology investment and economic growth by bringing the technology of tomorrow to cities, towns and neighborhoods – today.

We need to be able to provide our kids with the competitive advantage of digital learning tools. We need to be able to offer small business owners and startups access to network capacity and bandwidth to support their innovations. We need to provide our government and civic leaders with technology to engage with the public in a more intimate way and provide improved services that makes everyone’s lives better.

But, before all of that is possible, Mississippi needs to make a commitment to provide the infrastructure to make the opportunities of the future a reality.

If you <cTypeface:Italic> build it <cTypeface:Plain>, they will come: The first “it” is the infrastructure that’s available now, and it’s called 1 Gig ultra high-speed fiber Internet, and C Spire is ready to deploy it in communities around the state.

The second “it” are the many possibilities that await when 1 Gig, 100-times-faster Internet access become available. While we know some of the real benefits that fiber offers to individuals, families, businesses and entire communities, we’ve just scratched the surface of what’s possible with this next-generation infrastructure. The unknown potential and the unleashing of our collective creativity is the most exciting aspect of this initiative.

The 1 Gig Fiber Internet access has the potential to create impactful, lasting and positive change in any community, city or state that has the good fortune of offering it to its residents.

In fact, when Google Fiber made 1 Gig Internet access available to thousands in Kansas City, Kans., things started to happen – really good things – that changed that city forever. In just a few months after deployment and availability, home values jumped, digital education initiatives accelerated overnight, the entire region was coined the “Silicon Prairie” and a next-generation startup village popped up to support the many entrepreneurs that had been waiting for this kind of technology to get their innovations up and running.

Kansas City is just one city. Our goal is to deliver breakthrough Internet technology to communities across our state.

The first step to moving Mississippi forward has been accomplished: C Spire is ready and willing to deploy fiber to the home.

However, the next step is, in my opinion, the most critical piece to the puzzle: getting cities, towns, local communities, even neighborhoods to rally in support and collectively demand that fiber to the home makes it to their doors. Because, without community demand and support, the many known and still undiscovered possibilities of fiber to the home will never be realized in Mississippi.

“Get Fiber First” challenge: We said we wanted to hear from neighborhoods, towns and cities in Mississippi that have a passion for innovation and the desire to make their communities better and from residents who want to be a part of the fiber revolution by being the first to get world-class speeds for themselves, their families and their businesses.

As we write this, we’re just a few days away from our first important deadline of Oct. 20 for submission of formal applications for 1 Gig service and I’m impressed with the results as 28 cities, counties and communities and thousands of Mississippians have responded to our “Get Fiber First” challenge and declared their intent to partner with us to make this next-generation service available today.

From Southaven to Gulfport, communities up and down the state have answered our call-to-action with creative, aggressive campaigns featuring activities ranging from rallies and town hall meetings to special events and celebrations, dedicated websites, online digital campaigns – even advertising on freeway billboards and at high school and college football games.

All of these activities have helped galvanize community support, generated positive consumer engagement and have elevated their areas to the top of the list for initial consideration.

These communities already know that 1 Gig Fiber to the Home will dramatically change the way they connect with their world – making every part of their Internet life faster, richer and more vibrant. They understand that C Spire is ready to build the “it,” but we can’t do it alone.

That same sense of urgency, resolve and determination will be evident when we announce the finalist cities for our initial phase of this initiative on Nov. 4. We’ll partner with elected officials, community leaders and residents who can help us quickly pre-register neighborhoods at levels that will qualify them to be among the first for our build out of the service and fast-track the construction phase.

At C Spire, we firmly believe that Mississippi stands at the precipice of a tremendous opportunity to literally transform the way its residents live, work and play through broad deployment of our ultra-high speed “Fiber to the Home Internet” access.

Together, we can set the pace for the nation and show the rest of the country what it means to be a true technology leader – at the speed of light.

Hu Meena is president and chief executive officer of C Spire.