Gigabit internet service officially launched on areas of Sand Mountain

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SAND MOUNTAIN, Ala. (WHNT) -- Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative introduced an internet connection that company leaders say has the fastest speeds in the state -- gigabit access -- and they're making it available on parts of Sand Mountain.

Officials say the ultra-fast internet service is the first in Alabama.

Friday morning state and local officials stood outside a home in Geraldine. They joined leaders from Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative. For the company, this home has significance.  It also has significance to Geraldine Mayor Chuck Ables.

"We had membership number one," Ables says. He grew up there, where the family held the first membership in the Cooperative.  Now, decades later, that home became the first in the region with gigabit service - serviced through the same company.

"We've now covered about 84 percent of our traditional membership on Sand Mountain between the Tennessee River and the Georgia/Tennessee lines," said Fred Johnson, CEO of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative. "We've also been able to extend that network to communities of interest such as Fort Payne, Collinsville, Valley Head, Section, Dutton, and other areas in DeKalb and Jackson County that are part of our competitive area but not traditional area.  They now all have access to that fiber broadband network."

Company leaders say the entities connected to the company's fiber network have access to speeds up to one gigabit per second. "That's optical fiber to the premise," Johnson said, "meaning that we actually run dedicated optical fibers to every business or home location."

"This is just a big deal for the town of Geraldine, for DeKalb County, for Sand Mountain, for our area, for our state," Mayor Ables says.

Officials say having access to this Internet service has the potential to benefit the areas it serves in economic growth.  It's been a work in progress, and it's also just that -- progress.

"Geraldine, and every other municipality in DeKalb and Jackson County that we touch can say they're a gig city just like the rest," Johnson says.

Decades later, it all comes back to where it started. "It's just a great thing for our family," Mayor Ables said.

The cooperative says customers can expect package pricing soon, available on the company's website.