How Google’s ‘Fiberhood’ Strategy Is Spreading
In Mississippi, a private company called C Spire is adhering to Google’s approach even more closely than other providers.
First, C Spire slices towns into “fiberhoods” — the same term Google uses for the small neighborhoods it targets. Then it goes door to door preregistering homes for its one-gigabit Internet service. C Spire only builds if a certain percentage of residents sign up — again, just like Google Fiber. It even hired Joe Reardon, the former Kansas City, Kan., mayor who worked on the city’s Google Fiber project, as a consultant.
One difference: C Spire goes ahead with building out the service if 35% to 45% of residents in each fiberhood preregister; Google Fiber generally uses thresholds of 5% to 25%.
C Spire primarily used to be a wireless company. But Google’s build-to-demand method persuaded the company to get into the gig game because the model is less risky and potentially more profitable than the traditional path of covering whole areas regardless of demand.
“It’s something we know we will get a return on,” said Suzy Hays, senior vice president for consumer markets at C Spire. “The key to that, and the inspiration from Google, was the crowd-sourced model.”
C Spire had about 4,600 miles of fiber-optic cable before 2014. This year, the company is on course to add 1,400 miles — the most it has ever built in a year.
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