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A Shelby County business will be the first in the state to offer one of the fastest Internet service connections available.
Shelby Broadband, based in Simpsonville, is in the beginning stages of installing in the infrastructure to provide fiber-optic line service to home customers, pushing the capabilities of their Internet service well beyond any others available across the commonwealth.
Once the service is up and running, which should be later this year, the company formerly known as Shelby Wireless will offer the fastest wired service.
“About the middle of last year we decided to start providing fiber to the home,” CEO Chuck Hogg said. “We’ve been doing wireless for about six years – it’ll be seven in April – but we’re in a position where we really need to be providing more bandwidth to our customers.
“One thing in our industry that people always talk about is fat pipes [more bandwidth]. How do we offer more fat pipes? Well, fiber is actually smaller – one line is about the size of a strand of hair – and it offers a one-gigabyte connection.”
So even though it’s smaller than a copper connection that is similar to a cable connection, it’s the widest flow of signals to consumers.
Hogg said the company will begin putting the infrastructure in by the end of January or first of February, and it will be completely owned by his company.
“We’ve offered fiber as a reseller through AT&T for about five years for businesses, but this will be our network,” he said. “We’ve filed for and become a CLEC, a competitive local exchange carrier, which allows us to use utility right-of-ways.”
The CLEC status gives Shelby Broadband the right to install their own utility boxes and provide their own infrastructures.
That puts them on common ground with Insight Communications, which is owned by Time Warner, and AT&T. Both companies offered bundled packages that included Internet, phone and television. Although Insight’s Internet speeds are faster, AT&T’s U-verse system, which combines TV and Internet, has gained in popularity since being offered in Shelby County. However, both services, like Shelby Broadband, are limited in the areas they can serve.
But Hogg said the company will start slow and already has plans to grow.
“We’re going to start with Simpsonville,” he said. “We’ll run the line out to [U.S.] 60, and down into Simpsonville and eventually across and up [KY] 1848 [Buck Creek Road].”
They’re even planning ahead.
“We’re going to go ahead and install the infrastructure in Hidden Creek Woods, which is a new subdivision [north of Simpsonville], so we can be in and installed before they start building the homes,” he said.
But Hogg said Shelby Broadband isn’t forgetting its existing customers, with plans to alert Todds Point Road-area residents of the new service headed their way.
“Also this year we’re going to try to get across the Interstate ,” Hogg said. “We’re going to be available for the outlet malls, and we’re going to get to Majestic Oaks and Hunters Pointe subdivisions.”
After tackling Simpsonville, Hogg said the company would begin to look at expanding its service.
“We want to get started close to home,” he said.
The company has moved to 148 Citizens Blvd., behind Citizens Union Bank in Simpsonville. “That way we’re close so we can troubleshoot any potential problems more easily. Then we’ll look at moving east across the county,” Hogg said.
Current rural customers, however, shouldn’t be worried that their service will suffer, though.
“The rural areas have been our focus since we opened,” Hogg said. “We wanted another way to service our customers with more bandwidth, but we’re also going to continue to upgrade our wireless service.”
So is Shelby County ready for this top-of-the-line technology?
“I think you’d be surprised at the needs of Shelby Countians,” Hogg said. “I think so. A lot of people are working from home now, and they need a reliable, high-speed connection. And more and more people are streaming video, dropping cable and satellite TV and relying only on Internet services like Netflix and Hulu.
“With this connection, that’s something they will easily be able to do.”
Although the price structure is not yet set, Hogg said Shelby Broadband will offer speed-tiered service, like Insight/Time Warner, and the prices will be similar, although a bit higher, to the wireless service.
“Right now our wireless packages are between forty and eighty dollars, and our fiber packages will be about the same and very compatible with cable prices,” he said. “But you’ll have more bandwidth.
“We’ll probably offer tiered services similar to cable with ten-, twenty- and fifty-meg connections.”
And as they continue to grow, Hogg said fiber also gives the company the potential to add more and more services.
“Since we haven’t found the limits for fiber yet, we’ll have the capacity to continue to add more and more services if we choose to,” he said. “For instance, we could add TV service on this connection. That’s not something we’re planning to do anytime soon. But several years down the road, who knows?”