Today at the Fiber Connect 2021 event, the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) presented its annual Gig City Award to the state of Alabama's Huntsville Utilities, the City of Huntsville, the Huntsville Madison County Chamber, as well as The Broadband Group and Google Fiber.
The FBA recognized these groups for their outstanding collaborative initiative that leveraged fiber-optic technology to increase connectivity across communities in Huntsville, Alabama and improve economic development and quality of life.
As noted by an FBA announcement, the city of Huntsville, or “Rocket City,” has a history that is deeply rooted in innovation. The town supported the launch of the Space Race with the establishment of NASA, the Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.
The area also features Cummings Research Park, which is the second largest research park in the nation and home to world-class Genome research and a global epicenter for cyber security. Huntsville is devoted to science and technology, and ensuring its businesses and residents have access to high-performance internet connectivity is an important city objective.
Recognizing the need for additional fiber infrastructure for its own internal communication and operational needs, Huntsville Utilities took matters into its own hands. Working with The Broadband Group, a top telecommunications consulting and business advisory firm, Huntsville Utilities pioneered a Utility Lease Model where the utility aligns interests with private industry to expand fiber citywide.
As electric utilities adopt grid modernization initiatives, this Lease Model enables the utility company to build or expand fiber-optic networks and include excess fiber capacity to be used by third party tenants, like ISPs or 4G/5G mobile operators.
For Huntsville Utilities’ fiber network, Google Fiber was the first tenant to deploy multigigabit broadband services to residential and small business customers in Huntsville and surrounding areas.
As cited by FBA, as a result, an analysis by HighSpeedInternet.com showed that Huntsville led the country for the biggest jump in internet speeds from February 2020 to February 2021. According to the study that was conducted in May 2021, Huntsville ranked 12th for the fastest internet speeds in the nation.
“For 80 years, Huntsville Utilities provided traditional utility services, but Huntsville’s city leaders knew that our smart and innovative community needed a robust technology infrastructure to stay competitive,” said Wes Kelley, President and CEO at Huntsville Utilities.
Kelley added, “Our partnership with Google Fiber was the catalyst for investment in broadband across our community. Today, we enjoy healthy competition in this market, which means our residents and businesses have abundant attractive broadband options. Importantly for Huntsville Utilities, our fiber investment is strengthening our utilities and the efficiencies of Huntsville’s municipal services.”
The Gig City Award was presented to each group involved in the Huntsville fiber initiative at an awards ceremony at Fiber Connect, the leading optical fiber business and technology event in North America. The 2021 event is being held July 25-28, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Huntsville’s fiber initiative is truly commendable and demonstrates the value of citywide fiber networks,” said Gary Bolton, President and CEO at FBA. “Huntsville Utilities created a new model by building out the broadband infrastructure and leasing dark fiber to ISPs to deliver fiber-based multigigabit services across the entire city. It was able to create an attractive service for existing and new subscribers with a network that can easily scale to support robust connectivity that Huntsville’s residents and businesses need now and expect in the future.”
The Fiber Broadband Association is part of the Fibre Council Global Alliance, which is a platform of six global FTTH Councils in the Americas, LATAM, Europe, MENA and APAC. Learn more at www.fiberbroadband.org.