Nine months after announcing Project Open Road, a three-year, $1 billion commitment to broaden its broadband service base, Mediacom Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: MCCC) hit the first milestone – a major network upgrade that brings 1 gigabit per second internet speeds to residents in 63 Missouri cities.
“We have 75,000 homes that now have access in Springfield,” Mediacom’s Area Operations Director Steve Bennett said of the company’s service area.
The announcement from the New York-based company came July 26 at its Springfield Operations Center, as part of a demonstration and tour of the facility that now has more than $5 million in new broadband equipment, Mediacom Communications Director Phyllis Peters said.
The upgrades complete the company’s Missouri investments as part of Project Open Road.
In the Queen City, Bennett said it brings 1 gigabit internet speeds to residents and home-based businesses in Springfield and Greene County, as well as Marshfield, Cassville and Ava.
The new equipment – technically speaking, DOCSIS3.1 modems, which are in line with Data Over Cable Service Internet Specification standards – enables high bandwidth data transfers by existing cable TV systems.
“Our 1 gigabit announcement pertained mainly to residential customers,” Peters said. “To people who want and need bandwith in their homes because of more devices connecting to a home network.”
Peters said Mediacom actually “lit up” its Springfield network with the 1-gigabit speeds as early as July 19, during a soft launch.
Mediacom has offered 1-gigabit internet speeds since 2006 – when the service received its first commercial customer in Springfield.
“So now, for more than a decade, Mediacom has offered businesses, industries and enterprise entities broadband service with speeds of 1 gig and even up to 10 gigs,” Peters said. “We’ve delivered this service in the way that best fits the specific needs of each business.”
It may be nothing new for commercial customers, but some are still finding out about it.
“I would love that at our business in Willard,” Darren Proctor wrote on Mediacom’s Facebook post about the announcement.
According to Proctor’s profile, he works as a process engineer at Eternal Armory, a costume shop specializing in laser and plasma cutting.
Peters was unable to disclose the names of companies utilizing Mediacom’s services. Officials had previously identified some 2,000 buildings locally as gigabit broadband targets not already on the company’s network. Among them were 70 businesses off of Independence Street and another 40 businesses on Pythian Street.
As of its announcement, Bennett said 13 new residential customers had signed up for the service. Pricing for the 1-gigabit speeds starts at $139.95 per month, Peters said.
A gigabit network is able to download a billion bits of data per second. Practically speaking, that means a two-hour movie can be downloaded in 28 seconds. Seeming ancient in comparison, Bennett said with DSL, it could take over an hour.
“Our goal has always been to try and bring the best service that you could expect in Chicago and New York and L.A. to the mid- to small markets across the nation,” Bennett said of Mediacom’s business model.
The company claims to be the fifth-largest cable operator in America serving more than 1.3 million customers in smaller markets across the Midwest and southeast.
Springfield was the 1,000th community in the nation to take on the new service, and Springfield Mayor Ken McClure was on hand to issue a congratulatory proclamation for becoming a gigabit city.
“Springfield residents, like consumers elsewhere, rely on more connected devices and have seen their internet data consumption grow by as much as 35 to 50 percent per year,” the proclamation reads.
Mediacom is not the first internet service provider to bring such high speeds to the Springfield area, however.
In 2015, Suddenlink Communications chose Nixa as one of its first five markets to receive 1-gigabit broadband. The same year, City Utilities’ SpringNet rolled out gigabit fiber internet to the likes of downtown’s small businesses, and today, the network has over 650 fiber optic route miles with connectivity to over 500 buildings within the Springfield business community, according to SpringNet’s website. SpringNet pricing starts at $150 a month.
Companies like AT&T are in the game, too. It announced in May that after its deployment of 1-gigabit broadband to Springfield businesses, it was expanding to area homes. AT&T’s gigabit prices run $80 per month.
Total Highspeed LLC is another internet service provider in the Springfield area offering up 1 gigabit internet speeds, but in a different manner. The company specializes in wireless high-speed rural internet connections, and Springfield businesses use its services as a backup.
“If the wires get dug up or the pole gets knocked over, the connection goes down,” Total Highspeed CEO Travis Allen said. “But if they have a wireless option like our service offers, then there’s a redundancy there and they can make sure they’re up all the time.”
For example, Total Highspeed provides backup services to Positronic Industries Inc., while it’s a primary provider for Rich Kramer Construction Inc. and MaMa Jean’s Natural Food Market’s four stores. Allen said businesses that use backup services are still paying the full price every month, even though Total Highspeed may not be their primary provider.
“Let’s say they pay $150 a month,” Allen said. “Well, that’s only $1,800 a year, and for a business, that is cheap insurance.”
Allen said he welcomes Mediacom’s 1 gigabit speeds.
“A rising tide raises all ships, and that’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing incredible demand for service,” Allen says. “I think it’s good for the community.”
Mediacom’s Bennett said the average home has 12 devices, and the number is growing exponentially.
“By 2022, a typical home could have 500 smart devices,” Bennett added.
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