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CU to invest $120M on fiber expansion

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City Utilities of Springfield this morning announced a $120 million fiber network expansion through its SpringNet division.

The investment represents a public-private partnership with CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), which agreed to lease the expanded network to provide high-speed internet to businesses and homes in Springfield.

“Springfield will be a gigabit city,” said Chris Denzin, vice president of sales and marketing for CenturyLink, speaking at a news conference held at The Old Glass Place downtown.

Gigabit broadband refers to high-speed internet that runs at a gigabit per second.

CU General Manager Scott Miller said the project — which calls on the build-out of more than 1,000 additional fiber route miles on top of 700 currently in operation — will soon go out to bid with an estimated start date in 2020. Infrastructure construction would start on the north side, he said.

The partnership with CenturyLink calls on the expansion to be complete within three years, though Denzin said the company is challenging CU to complete it in two years. Gigabit service would start becoming available as the infrastructure is built, meaning some businesses and homes would not have to wait the full three years.

“It really is an attractive market for us,” Denzin said of Springfield.

In other communities where CenturyLink has provided citywide gigabit broadband services, he said gross domestic product has grown by 3% or more.

“We’re selling opportunity now,” Miller added.

Declining to disclose terms, he said the initial lease arrangement with CenturyLink is for 15 years.

CenturyLink competitor Mediacom Communications Corp. (Nasdaq: MCCC) in 2017 announced the rollout of gigabit internet in Springfield and across Missouri.

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