Rural Areas Lead Rocket City In Building Fiber Broadband Networks

There was big news out of Huntsville, Alabama, this morning — Google Fiber is coming to the Rocket City.

This announcement underscores the fact that, in many areas, rural America is way ahead of its big-city neighbors when it comes to deploying advanced communications services over a fiber-based broadband network.

Huntsville is a high-tech center of the South. Its impressive technological landscape includes such highlights as HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Cummings Research Park, Redstone Arsenal and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

And now, Google. According to news reports, Google Fiber will start connecting customers there by the middle of 2017. This is critical infrastructure for a city with such an advanced business base.

Rural and connected

The amazing part of this story is that Huntsville lies about an hour west of our little town of Rainsville, Alabama. We live and work atop the broad plateau known as Sand Mountain—and we have a fiber connection to our office and home. This has been the case for a few years, in fact. And not only are we on a fiber-to-the-home network, but we also enjoy a gigabit connection at both locations.

This is possible through the solid planning and hard work of our provider, FTC. A locally owned telecommunications cooperative, FTC’s leadership has built upon the company’s original mission envisioned by its founders more than six decades ago — to bring service to a region that would otherwise be unserved. Today, that includes gigabit broadband.

And that is the story playing out in small towns and rural communities across America. While many big cities struggle to secure high-speed Internet service, rural residents are enjoying the benefits of broadband — often over a fiber connection with speeds up to a gigabit.

Our company works with many of the rural telcos providing these advanced services, and I am constantly amazed at what they accomplish in their service areas—which often include low-density populations along with above-average unemployment and poverty rates. While government leaders at city, state and national levels search for viable solutions for deploying fiber, many rural providers have already found ways to bring broadband over fiber networks to the people they serve.

A story that deserves more attention

Congratulations to Huntsville on its Google Fiber announcement. I’m excited for the Rocket City’s residents and businesses. The presence of a city-wide fiber network will bring about new opportunities in economic development, education, telemedicine and more. I hope this news also raises awareness of the work independent and cooperative telcos have long been doing to create similar opportunities for the rural areas they serve. It’s a story that deserves more attention.


Rural fiber success stories

Following are some brief videos that highlight success stories of rural telecommunications providers delivering broadband over fiber—often at gigabit speeds.