By JOYANNA LOVE | Chief Editor
Businesses in Jemison and surrounding areas that have struggled to process sales due to internet outages over the past year now have a new option to choose from in Uniti Fiber.
Options for residential customers in other areas of Chilton County are also expanding through Central Access.
Uniti Fiber chose Jemison as the area to serve because it was along a road it was building linking Montgomery and Birmingham.
Joe McCourt, senior vice president of corporate operations for Uniti Fiber, said the company saw an opportunity because the region had businesses in need of reliable high-speed internet without much choice.
A few local businesses are already on board as customers.
“We only serve professional clients,” McCourt said. “Now we have cases where we will work with third-party partners at a wholesale level who will buy our services. For example, a wireless internet provider will buy an internet stream from us and then distribute it to residential customers. »
It could be a business that was already in the area, but didn’t have fiber, or a new business that is coming to the area. It is unclear if a third-party company will partner with Uniti in Jemison to provide home internet access.
Expansion into the county and possibly serving Clanton was discussed. McCourt said it depends on how many businesses are interested in the service and how close they are to the existing network.
“It’s a math problem for us,” McCourt said. “If we can make it work, we want to make it work.”
Many Chilton County residents now have the option of signing up for high-speed home internet through Central Access as it expands beyond its original fiber optic project.
There are currently 2,500 Central Access customers in Chilton County. However, Central Access reports that an additional 4,000 homes are in areas served by the fiber system, but they have not signed up for the service.
Service is already available in sections of Maplesville, several areas of the county between Clanton and Maplesville, sections of Clanton, parts of Verbena near the 200 Interstate exit and several unincorporated areas of the county. A map can be viewed and specific addresses can be searched on centralaccess.com.
“From subsidized areas to areas requiring activation, we are excited about the expansion in Chilton County,” said Chris Montgomery, Vice President of Central Access. “We anticipate that nearly every CAEC (Central Alabama Electric Cooperative) member in our electric service territory in Chilton County will have fiber by the end of the year.”
The service is also available to some who are not CAEC electricity customers.
Construction began on areas funded by USDA grants. It is estimated that this will add eligibility to another 2,400 homes.
Both Central Access and Uniti Fiber offer symmetric service, meaning the same speed is offered for uploading and downloading. Some other companies only offer different speeds for uploading and downloading.
Unit Fiber’s available speeds range from 25 MBPS to 100 GBP. McCourt said the company is discussing with businesses which speeds and other services it provides, such as voice and router management, including the addition of a secondary backup internet source, would best meet. to their needs.
Central Access offers speeds from 200 MBPS to 1 GBPS.
“Whether you’re a CAEC member or not, we know that reliable internet is a necessity for families today,” Montgomery said. “As we complete our initial construction plans, we are excited about the possibilities of providing our service to anyone in our area who wants it.”
Central Access is the Internet service provider arm of Central Alabama Electric Cooperative. The construction of its fiber network began in Verbena in 2019.
Uniti Fiber started in 2015 and acquired other companies to expand the 128,000 miles of fiber network across the country that it is today.
McCourt said the company has always aimed to serve businesses directly.
“We don’t send you to a call center overseas,” McCourt said. “If you have a problem, we take care of it ourselves, which is great.”
The Network Operations Center for Uniti in Mobile is accessible 24/7.
Companies interested in Uniti Fiber can contact Regional Manager Philip Durant at 251-689-0100 or [email protected]
Information about registering for service with Central Access is available at centralaccess.com.