Support for fiber internet gathers in Huntsville


(Photo: MGN Online)

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Fiber internet would speed up a whole lot of things for Huntsville. Now, a coalition has come together to speed up the process of bringing fiber to the Rocket City.

You may be thinking, "My internet is fast enough. What do I need fiber for?"

For many, the jump from dial-up to broadband felt like enough--but that's only because you haven't imagined the jump to fiber.

Launch Fiber executive director Tyler England told us that fiber internet is "for the average person, up to a hundred times faster."

But fiber internet is much more than a faster way to watch YouTube videos and stream your favorite movies from Netflix. Fiber internet ripples all the way through a community.

"The elderly lady who is going to the grocery store, what does it do for her? It helps with the traffic grid. It helps with traffic management. She has to sit less time at red lights," Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle told us.

But maybe you live close to work and don't spend much time in traffic. You would appreciate a lower power bill, wouldn't you?

"Each meter at your home can send data off to the utilities on how it's being used," England said. That information can be used to find what appliance in your home uses the most power--letting you know where you can save the most money.

And it's not just about getting power or even internet to the community, it's about providing for the people who live there. Local companies like Curse could move more operations and jobs into town.

"Right now most of our stuff is in Atlanta, because it's a super connected city, and having Huntsville reach that level would be pretty cool," said Michael Comperda, Curse chief tech officer.

But maybe the biggest impacts of faster internet haven't even descended into our minds.

"In this area, there are things we haven't even imagined yet because we don't have it. It's like asking somebody who has never bee in the car what it's like to drive down the highway," England said.

But fiber internet and it's possibilities don't have to remain a figment of our imagination.

There are a few different ways fiber could find its way to the Rocket City.

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Mayor Battle acknowledges, "We've been working on fiber for three years now. We're finally down to the place where we're doing a study on it. How's the best way to do it?"

There are a few options to deliver the faster internet. For example, we could let traditional carriers put it in.

England explains, "A service provided by a major provider would be something that they would install to your home like cable is today."

But we could also get a utility company, like Huntsville Utilities, to maintain the lines then let carriers buy space from them.

England elaborates, "The public utility can be sold off to different providers, which would leave an open market, just like it was in the nineties when you had dial up . . . You had all these different major ISP's that you can buy into and get their service from. It didn't matter who ran the phone line to your home. It didn't matter who ran the phone line to your home."

The debate over the future of fiber happens right now.

You can find more information from Launch Fiber's website. You can also sign their petition and express how you think fiber should be managed.

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