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C Spire Consortium Argues Rural Broadband Benefits; Tackles Mississippi Adoption, Availability

Published by The Telecompetitor on July 17, 2019

By Joan Engebreston

Most Telecompetitor readers are already sold on the benefits of ubiquitous broadband. But that’s not necessarily true of the broader U.S. population, including those who may not recognize what it means to lack broadband as many rural areas do today or, conversely, the breadth of rural broadband benefits.

This reality undoubtedly was a driving force behind the creation of a new white paper and website from a consortium comprised of Mississippi-based service provider C Spire, Microsoft and several wireless equipment providers.

“Those with broadband internet tend to have an advantage over those without, and the people least likely to have broadband access live in rural areas,” according to the white paper, titled “Understanding the Rural Broadband Problem.”

C Spire can trace its roots back to the 1950s when it started out as a local exchange carrier, later adding cellular service. In recent years, it has broadened its scope to include building middle-mile fiber and fiber-to-the-home networks and data centers and also offering a wide range of residential and business services Cspire Rural Broadband Report E1563380772516 300x153throughout Mississippi and other parts of its service area. Some of these buildouts were undertaken  with the goal of spurring economic development in those areas.

C Spire’s Chief Innovation Officer Craig Sparks told Telecompetitor early this year that the company hoped that in some areas, once it had deployed middle-mile fiber, other service providers would deploy last-mile broadband to connect to those networks and from there, to the broader internet. But when last-mile deployments from other network operators didn’t occur as broadly or quickly as anticipated, C Spire formed the consortium with the goal of spurring those deployments.

C Spire sees fixed wireless playing a key role in those last-mile deployments and enlisted wireless vendors Nokia, Airspan and Siklu to take part in the consortium. Although not known primarily for fixed wireless, Microsoft also has been a strong advocate for the technology through its Airband initiative. That company’s role in the consortium will be to spur broadband adoption through digital skills initiatives.

Read the original article here