FINALLY: true high-speed internet service will be available in 2023 for folks in Union County, parts of surrounding counties
Residents of New Albany and all other customers of New Albany Lights, Gas, and Water (NALGW), will finally have true high-speed internet service available starting next year.
The result of several years of work by Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, NALGW General Manager Bill Mattox and others, installation of fiber optic cable for high-speed internet service is scheduled to start early in the coming year.
The service will make available 10 gigabit symmetrical broadband service throughout the NALGW service area, including New Albany and large parts of Union, Benton, Tippah and Marshall counties. This is approximately ten times the internet speeds that are now avail from internet service providers in the service area.
Bill Mattox told NEMiss.News Friday afternoon, September 23, that the broadband service will be available to every home and business throughout the NALGW service area – without an installation charge. Installation charges for rural customers in the four-county area may now run as high as $2,000, if furnished by the companies that now provide minimal internet service speeds.
High-speed broadband service for rural and small town Mississippians has been the intense focus for Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley for the last several years. Presley has worked continually with federal, state and local agencies and many thousands of rural families and business now have high speed internet as a result.
A joint announcement yesterday by NALGW and ACE Fiber of Corinth gave further details of the new service coming next year. Here is the full text of the announcement made Friday:
Two years ago, ACE Fiber had just begun deploying fiber broadband services to its membership in Alcorn County. Today, ACE Fiber and The City of New Albany Light Gas and Water (NALGW) are pleased to announce a partnership to bring network services to all NALGW electric customers in New Albany and parts of Union, Benton, Tippah and Marshall Counties.
The internet service provider, currently serving nearly 7,000 subscribers in Alcorn County, was one of the first service providers in America to offer 10 gigabit symmetrical broadband to 100% of its service territory.
After completing the mainline build to envelop the entirety of Alcorn County in less than two years, the for-profit, wholly owned subsidiary of Alcorn County Electric Power Association has its sights set on increasing the scale of its network operations by utilizing excess fiber that will be built by NALGW for the purposes of grid modernization.
“We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to scale our network by leveraging the infrastructure that will be built by New Albany Light, Gas and Water,” said ACE Fiber’s CEO, Eddie Howard. “The partnership we are creating will benefit both Alcorn and Union Counties, respectively.”
The sentiment is shared by NALGW, “This project offers a lot of promise for our electric system,” said Bill Mattox, NALGW’s General Manager. “In addition to constructing a network to facilitate our grid modernization efforts, all of our customers will now have access to world class broadband service at an affordable price. We are very appreciative to our Mayor and Board of Aldermen for having the vision to pursue this project.”
Alcorn County Electric Power Association is one of seventeen electric cooperatives in Mississippi that formed either a subsidiary or a division, with the purpose of providing broadband services to their electric membership.
As of the end of August, those cooperatives have invested over $650 million, running over 21,000 miles of fiber-optic cable, and serving over 80,000 homes and businesses.
“We have seen that the fiber infrastructure that is being built by the electric cooperatives has proven to be superior to what the incumbent providers have been offering for far too long,” said Sean McGrath, Chief Financial Officer with ACE Fiber. “New Albany and Corinth are very similar in a lot of ways. We feel like we had a good game plan for Corinth and that we can replicate that in New Albany by offering a world-class internet service, backed up by a customer service experience that is second to none.”
Both parties hope to begin the initial design and architecture of the network by the fall of 2022. It is believed that fiber services to New Albany and surrounding areas could begin as early as the third quarter of 2023.
“Working together with local leaders, we have searched and searched for a permanent solution to get high-speed internet service to every customer of New Albany Light, Gas and Water for several years,” said Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley. “Once again, we see how community partnerships solve problems. This partnership with ACE Fiber both closed the digital divide for NAGLW customers and makes good financial sense for everyone involved. I’m honored to have worked alongside these two good organizations. We can now say, without hesitation, that help is on the way.”