Fulton Telephone Company (FTC) is making headway on their plans to bring faster internet service to their customers.
Contracted laborers are currently boring and pulling fiber optic cables in the Dorsey and Fawn Grove areas as part of the company’s ongoing upgrade. FTC General Manager Eddie Hardin told the Times workers will soon be in the area of South Adams Street and Davis Subdivision areas.
“We’ve had a few delays with weather and materials, but we are pleased with the progress and moving along well,” he said.
FTC’s goal is to get the foundation of their fiber optic system in place. It will essentially tie into Tupelo to the west and east to Hamilton, Alabama. Assistant General Manager Kevin Timmons said this will create a backup service and allow a feed to the two as well.
“Moving down Highway 178 will strengthen the backbone of the system,” Timmons said. “We’ll be going into the Tremont area once that is in place and feed Hamilton a service and create the backup for us.”
FTC announced their plans to replace their copper cable platform with new fiber optic cables in January, utilizing funds provided through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service loans.
When approval for the loans took longer than anticipated due to the government shutdown in late December and early January, the company opted to move forward with the project without the aid of federal dollars.
“We have been looking into funding options for years and we are still looking into grants,” Hardin said. “We just decided not to wait any longer and make the investment ourselves. And it is a major investment.”
Marketing Director Jonathan Goodin told The Times the cost of fiber optic cable is approximately $68,000 per mile.
“A lot of companies don’t want to make the investment,” Goodin said. “Our future plan is to reach out into the rural areas that nobody else is willing to invest in.”
Hardin also noted that FTC has to pay for the internet just like their customers do.
“Sometimes there might be a misconception that we get it free, but we don’t. We have to pay a carrier as well,” Hardin said.
Running fiber optic cable first requires boring under roads and streets so that pipes can be placed.
“Some areas will move along faster than others because there are less hills and valleys,” Hardin said. “When we do reach the more rural areas, the ground can be plowed instead of bored and that will speed things up.”
After the pipe is placed, fiber cables can be pulled through them and pedestals can be set. The final and most time-consuming step in the process is splicing the fiber cables. Once the process is complete, they will be able to turn customers on.
“Our intention is to further expand in the years ahead,” Timmons said. “We are not excluding any of our customers.”
Hardin said they hope to have several active customers by January.
“It’s important that people go onto our website and sign up. We already have around 450 customers on the list,” he said.
FTC will start making decisions concerning where to put emphasis on completion based on the customers who have shown an interest.
“We want to be as loyal as we can to our customers,” Hardin said.
FTC services roughly 6,000 customers throughout Itawamba County.