Smithville to advance residential customer speed over the next 24 months
BLOOMINGTON (Indiana) – Opening a new chapter in Indiana telecommunications history, Smithville Fiber has started turning up its residential fiber and copper networks to the best available internet speed. This change reflects a new industry leadership position, and will be available for all Smithville residential customers who have internet and voice services. “Smithville has been building toward this point of leadership for quite some time,” said Darby McCarty, chairman and CEO. “We raised the bar for Indiana when we first turned up our fiber customers for a month of free gigabit service back in 2014, and now we’re going to take this exciting step forward and lead Indiana with our ‘best possible speed’ options for our entire network.”
As part of this change, internet and voice customers will also receive Smithville’s most popular calling features for no additional cost, and all voice customers will have unlimited long distance. For the majority of Smithville customers, these sweeping changes will result in little-to-no price change to their service.
Varying platforms within Smithville’s existing networks will ultimately determine what the “best available speed” is, according to John Patten, president of Smithville Fiber. Fiber customers can receive up to a gigabit of speed (download) and customers on Smithville’s copper and fiber hybrid network can receive speed upgrades to a possible 20 Mbps (download). In all cases, as the upgrade is implemented over the next 24 months, all Smithville internet and voice customers will receive the best speed available according to their current equipment and location.
Patten noted that Smithville leadership decided that “offering a ‘best possible speed’ option clearly offered our customers significant value over our competitors and rewards them for being a Smithville customer.” The new leadership position is expected to give Smithville Fiber an additional competitive advantage.
“Smithville is based in Indiana with Indiana ownership, so this upgrade reflects that positive commitment to being a local Hoosier-focused company,” he continued.
“This upgrade in our copper-fiber hybrid network areas is made possible in part by Smithville’s commitment to upgrade our copper cabinet connectivity with fiber,” said Dave Brodin, Smithville chief operating officer (COO). “We have also been making upgrades to our fiber network, and the overall outcome is this new capacity to offer a ‘best available speed’ option for all customers.”
Because of the complexity of turning up the various networks, Smithville plans to conduct the upgrades over the next 24 months. “We expect to have all internet customers with voice service upgraded to their individual ‘best available speed’ by early 2018,” Brodin said.
Because of physical transmission constraints of copper, Smithville is limited to the speeds it can offer over its existing copper network. “We continue to diligently explore how to improve our existing network with fiber connections,” said Patten. “With pure fiber new installs running between $40,000-$60,000 a mile, we have to pay attention to the financial commitments required for overall upgrades from basic copper networks.”
The Smithville president pointed out that the company took out a $90 million loan earlier in 2008 to pay for fiber conversion of major areas of its service regions. “There was a different focus at the federal level back then, and Smithville has had to positively adapt to federal and market changes for funding options,” he said.
The company remains “fully committed to fiber” and all major upgrade projects will be fiber-based, according to Ms. McCarty.
A basic internet speed will still be available for customers who choose not to have Smithville voice service. “Smithville voice is available at very modest fee for those who choose Smithville’s internet service, so that represents the best deal for a customer,” Brodin explained.
The network upgrades started on a limited basis earlier this year. Smithville customers are now being notified of the network changes on a region-by-region basis, and are generally asked to call Smithville to confirm. Smithville Fiber TV customers are also experiencing a fee increase, which is related to additional TV carriage costs being borne by Smithville.
Nationally recognized as a Top 100 Broadband Company for the past seven consecutive years, Smithville operates high-speed fiber broadband service to residential areas and to Indiana-certified technology parks, hospitals, manufacturers, financial institutions, municipalities, large non-for-profit organizations, and school systems.