C Spire debuts 2-gig, 8-gig internet as it pushes from AL, MS into TN

Regional operator C Spire is looking to one-up the competition, rolling out new 2- gig and 8-gig service tiers across its fiber-to-the-home footprint in Mississippi and Alabama. Jake Cowen, SVP for C Spire Fiber, told Fierce those speeds will also soon be available in new markets the operator is building out in Tennessee.

The new 2-gig plan will cost $115 per month while the 8-gig tier will cost $350. Both come with two Wi-Fi routers.

Cowen acknowledged that wireless throughput has yet to catch up to the speeds available via wired connections, but said C Spire wanted to make the access layer capabilities available to prepare for future bandwidth demand. C Spire’s network is built with XGS-PON technology, he added.

Asked why it decided to spring for 8-gigs rather than topping out at 4 or 5 gigs like some of its competitors, Cowen said it wanted to provide consumers with “other options and really deploy the [XGS-PON] technology to its fullest.” He added it doesn’t hurt to be a little bit ahead of the curve to beat the competition.

Today, the operator primarily serves Mississippi and small portions of Alabama. But Cowen indicated it is also working its way north into Tennessee. He said C Spire has “active markets getting deployed in Tennessee” today and noted the expansion is leveraging existing fiber assets C Spire had in the area for its wireless and business services. He did not say how many or which markets it is targeting.

“We’re going to continue to focus on fiber-to-the-prem for business and home,” he said. “As we continue to deploy our capital, we are edging out on all those previously deployed fiber assets and getting that access to that premise, to that customer, to that business.”

C Spire primarily appears to be facing off against the likes of AT&T and Comcast. Brightspeed, which acquired ILEC assets from Lumen Technologies late last year, currently has DSL in Mississippi and Tennessee but has announced plans to deploy fiber to more than 100,000 passings in each state over the coming years.

AT&T’s fiber tiers currently max out at 5-gigs, while Brightspeed’s stop at 1-gig. Comcast recently debuted a 2-gig cable service and has been working to make that available across larger swaths of its network.

As of Q1 2023, Ookla data showed C Spire was the ISP with the fastest median speed in Mississippi. While the overall median for the state was 134.23 Mbps, C Spire delivered 185.62 Mbps. Google Fiber won out in Alabama, while EPB dominated in Tennessee.