Huntsville recognized as a ‘Gig City’ for fiber internet investment

Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Aa seven-year project to install high-speed internet fibers throughout virtually all of the city of Huntsville is paying off, most recently with the title “Gig City.”

“It’s very expensive equipment and the lifespan is so long…you never see a 20-year return on your investment, but because of the agreement we have in place with Google Fiber, we will see that,” Huntsville Utilities Community Relations Director Joe Gehrdes said. “So it’s not costing our customers anything. Google’s customers basically pay for it.”

According to Gary Bolton with the Fiber Broadband Association, it makes Huntsville one of the few American cities setting a new standard for internet service competition.

“What we saw is all of a sudden AT&T started putting fiber in, Comcast started,” Bolton said. “So I have four different companies that have fiber to my house. So I have a lot of different options for broadband connectivity.”

Bolton said digital equity is paramount, meaning it’s not just corporate areas like Huntsville’s Research Park that benefits, but residents, too.

“Being able to have fiber and to everybody is a great equalizer,” Bolton said. “That means that if you live in Jackson County you have the same benefits as if you lived in Silicon Valley. You can have a Silicon Valley job and live at Lake Guntersville.”

According to the Fiber Broadband Association and AL.com, Huntsville ranked first in the country in most improved internet speeds between February 2020 and February 2021.

“That gets people national attention,” Bolton said.

“When companies are looking to locate or relocate in an area that offers high-tech solutions, Huntsville is on that list because of our fiber network and the other networks that are present in our community,” Gehrdes said.

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