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CU General Manager Gary Gibson, left, discusses the utility company’s $120 million fiber network expansion in an interview with SBJ Editor Eric Olson.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
CU General Manager Gary Gibson, left, discusses the utility company’s $120 million fiber network expansion in an interview with SBJ Editor Eric Olson.

CU GM: Spring to be a milestone for $120M fiber project

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The largest project in City Utilities of Springfield’s technology investment pipeline is slated to hit a milestone this spring.

Speaking this morning as Springfield Business Journal’s 12 People You Need to Know live interview guest, CU General Manager Gary Gibson said the first customers of the utility company’s $120 million fiber network expansion would be able to come on line in late spring.

The project — a public-private partnership with CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) — is first targeting the north side. The three-year rollout of the gigabit internet service project will occur in seven areas CU has divided the town into, Gibson said.

Through the deal announced in August 2019, CenturyLink will lease the network to provide high-speed internet to businesses and homes in Springfield. Gibson this morning said CenturyLink will pay CU for each address with access to the expanded network, regardless of whether they buy a service plan.

“The project is already viable,” he said.

Gibson said CenturyLink hasn’t yet released a pricing structure for Springfield but in other markets its gigabit plans run $60-$70 per month.

On the north side, he said tree trimmings and pole adjustments are about 70% complete for the initial rollout.

“The fiber contractor’s going to start here in the next week or two,” he said.

Gibson said the fiber expansion carried out by CU’s SpringNet division generally will run along electric lines, meaning the new cabling would run above and below ground.

Gigabit broadband, which refers to high-speed internet that runs at a gigabit per second, is already available in areas of the city via companies like Mediacom Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: MCCC), but Gibson said the expansion with CenturyLink on board would make Springfield a “true gigabit city.”

“To me, to be a true gigabit city means that gigabit fiber at an affordable price is available for everybody in the community,” he said.

CU’s fiber expansion also opens up the possibility of adding additional tenants to sign leases for the infrastructure, Gibson added.

Beyond the fiber expansion project, CU technology investments include an app developed by Smart Energy Water. A $2.8 million project, Gibson said the app is expected to launch this year to allow CU customers to better manage their accounts, receive energy readings and communicate with officials at the utility company.

Gibson took over last month as CU’s general manager, succeeding the retiring Scott Miller.

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