Light Reading

Gigabit Speeds Come to Rock Hill

Carol Wilson

Gigabit speeds aren't just for the Googles and AT&Ts of the world -- they are also coming to Main Street, USA, via multiple efforts such as one highlighted in today's news. Comporium Communications, a South Carolina telco, is bringing gigabit speeds to Rock Hill, S.C., as part of an economic development effort there.

Comporium Communications is using gear it bought from Adtran Inc. (Nasdaq: ADTN) to connect businesses and residences in a section of downtown Rock Hill to its fiber network and offer its Zipstream Gigabit services as its commitment to a redevelopment effort spearheaded by the town government and Winthrop University, based in Rock Hill. The intention is to build an urban Knowledge Park in a downtown section of Rock Hill largely abandoned by the textile industry and attract new businesses and new jobs to the area. (See Comporium Uses Adtran Gear to Go Gigabit.)

The initial deployments will be "brownfield" -- in other words, connecting existing buildings with fiber-to-the-premises, says Mike Deller, VP of engineering and planning for Comporium. But there are also plans for new greenfield expansions as facilities are added to Rock Hill's Knowledge Park.

"The city realized it needed a new source of jobs," says Paul Kutz, PR director for Comporium. Located south of Charlotte, N.C., Rock Hill had other benefits -- access to highways and an airport -- and was managing to maintain some growth but saw its legacy textile industry shut down as much of that work was outsourced overseas. When the city developed its master redevelopment plan, Comporium stepped up to offer the gigabit service.

Delivering those speeds meant overbuilding its own copper and coaxial cable facilities with fiber and adding the electronics, Adtran's TA-5000, to support multiple services from best-effort to Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) -compliant Ethernet offerings. The major challenge for the telco was managing things it has done before, like interconnecting equipment, at a faster pace than previously done, Deller says.

Comporium, which will turn up its first live customers this week, becomes the latest smaller telco to use fiber-based Gigabit speeds as part of a local redevelopment effort. Such efforts are becoming more common, done by either the municipality, a local utility or the local telco. Comporium officials actually visited the Google Fiber Inc. plant in Kansas City and the EPB Fiber Optics deployment in Chattanooga before launching its FTTP network.

Adtran is building a marketing effort of its own, called "Enabling Communities, Connecting Lives," around the work of its rural telco customers.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Beer
5/29/2014 | 10:28:24 AM
I love seeing gigabit connectivity spreading throughout the US, to both cities big and small. It is vital to remain competitive in this new global economy. 
User Rank: Light Beer
5/29/2014 | 1:57:30 AM
Dreams of communication
Comporium has been a plague to York county, and especially RockHill for years. I live less then .25 of a mile from the headquarters downtown. As long as I can remember they have had a monopoly on cable, internet, and home phone. I see more and more Time Warner commercials and hope that soon we the people of RockHill have options.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/28/2014 | 5:03:35 PM
Re: Call me Captain Obvious, but....
More and more of them are either doing it themselves (or trying to) or working with their local telcos or cablecos to do this. Not only is it essential for business, but for health care and education in these areas as well. 
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/28/2014 | 4:45:15 PM
Call me Captain Obvious, but....
High-speed internet is essential to attracting business, just as electricity is. Small towns are struggling to supply that service. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/28/2014 | 4:12:22 PM
Re: Rock on
Plus, there is a telephone museum there, according to the Wikipedia.
Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
5/28/2014 | 3:29:33 PM
Re: Rock on
At least you are admitting there are other reasons for visiting Rock Hill.

Actually small town America holds much charm and, if efforts like this work, may even hold the jobs of the future. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/28/2014 | 12:57:11 PM
Rock on
Yet another reason to visit Rock Hill. Exciting times!
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