C Spire and Entergy Mississippi have completed an $11 million fiber infrastructure project in Mississippi. It spans more than 300 miles over 15 counties, according to Broadband Technology Report. The final segment involved digging 40 feet under a reservoir to connect a 6,585-foot section. The reservoir is the state’s largest drinking water source.
The fiber expansion will enable C Spire to provide broadband to rural areas. It will also modernize Entergy’s grid by enhancing the communication systems that connect the utility’s facilities, substations, offices and radio sites. Entergy provides electric service for about 445,000 customers in 45 counties. More than 4,000 homes and over 1,000 businesses are within 500 feet of the fiber-optic lines.
“This project has attracted attention across the nation as we have successfully combined the modernization of the electric grid with the delivery of broadband service to our people,” said Mississippi Public Service Commission Chairman Brandon Presley.
C Spire already is connecting customers to the fiber, including a hospital in Prentiss and a band and children’s clinic in Monticello. The company operates 10,000 route miles of fiber in Mississippi and recently announced plans to expand into Alabama.
Collaborating with Entergy illustrates the type of joint effort that it sometimes takes for rural fiber to make sense, said C Spire SVP Engineering and Development Alan Jones. “Cost of fiber deployment is a hurdle in many areas. Public-private partnerships are key to bridging the digital divide and getting good quality broadband service in rural areas,” Jones told BTR.
There are many challenges in addition to cost, Jones said, including scheduling, topography, property access, weather, labor laws, and permitting requirements. This recent Mississippi effort included the need to go under the reservoir because it proved to be the most direct and least expensive route. “While there were several local, state and federal agencies and departments that needed to review and approve permitting, in the end it was the most efficient and effective way to get the job done,” said Jones.
The post MS Fiber Build Combines Broadband, Utility Upgrade appeared first on Inside Towers.