OTELCO to invest $5m to expand fiber and improve broadband connectivity in Alabama

OTELCO, a telecommunications provider servicing areas of Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and West Virginia, announced during a press conference today that it will invest more than $5,000,000 to improve broadband connectivity in Alabama. This major fiber broadband construction initiative will add 113-miles to the company’s Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) network to the City of Arab, Alabama, resulting in fiber availability to 4,100 additional locations. Construction will begin in June 2019 and be complete by early 2020. In addition to new fiber broadband construction, OTELCO unveiled a new broadband deployment strategy to dramatically increase connectivity speeds for all Internet customers.

According to Trevor Jones, VP of Sales, Marketing & Customer Service at OTELCO, “This year, OTELCO began a major initiative to rethink our broadband deployment strategy in an effort to deliver the greatest improvement to the largest number of our customers in the shortest time frame. By investing in fiber expansion and major upgrades to our cable and DSL networks, we are committed to bringing more bandwidth to all of our customers by this time next year.’

OTELCO Unveils New Broadband Deployment Strategy

“We recognize that our efforts must go beyond fiber broadband to serve our existing customers. If we focused on fiber alone, our customers would wait too long to see connectivity improvements. We are committed to improving our customers’ Internet service and overall experience with OTELCO. To do this, our strategy is to provide faster bandwidth to our customers in the shortest amount of time by utilizing the infrastructure we have right now. We’ll do that by deploying faster DSL, advancing our cable network or upgrading standard DSL,” Jones said.

Jones also explained a variety of other efforts OTELCO has been making over the past 8 months to increase speeds and value. For example, 83 miles of FTTP network will also be available to approximately 820 locations in Ryan, Jones Valley, Summit and Strawberry, Alabama.

This new strategy will get fiber broadband to more customers sooner, and a minimum of 25/3 (the national broadband standard of 25 Mbps download by 3 Mbps upload) to nearly 50 percent of OTELCO’s entire national footprint by this time next year.

“Most of our Alabama customers were getting 12 Mbps or less from us earlier this year. The ones getting VDSL will have between 25 and 50 Mbps, and the ones getting fiber and cable will have up to 1000 Mbps available. These are game-changer speed increases for many rural customers,” Jones said.

OTELCO rolls out new speed tiers to increase DSL speeds

According to Jason Fuller, OSP Engineering & Mapping Manager, OTELCO is increasing DSL speeds wherever possible. “In an effort to increase value to our DSL subscribers, we’ve opened up the pipe to increase speeds where we can. We’ve also adjusted our speed tiers to indicate the minimum speed a subscriber will be receiving. Most providers advertise “speeds up to” a certain level which means the customer may not actually get the full speed. Our new model gives the minimum speed and most subscribers will actually get a higher speed. Most of the customers will get more for the same price. In locations where this initiative might not produce the result we are looking for, we are looking at individual customers and working to employ new technologies to increase speed and value,” Fuller said.

Gigabit service coming to the Cable TV Networks in Oneonta, Rosa, Cleveland, Altoona, and Snead

OTELCO also explained infrastructure and equipment upgrades to its cable network, bringing the entire network up to the state-of-the-art DOCSIS 3.1 standard. The latest and fastest cable industry specification has the capability of delivering gigabit speeds over the existing coaxial cable plant and is the fastest path to gigabit speeds for the majority of OTELCO customers in Blount County. Approximately 6,000 locations could see the performance upgrade. This effort will begin in the first half of 2020.

Getting More from the DSL Network With VDSL

Fuller also announced DSL technology upgrades. “In addition to our initiatives in Fiber-to-the-Home and cable Internet, OTELCO will deploy VDSL to the rest of our service areas, which will nearly double the speed of traditional DSL,” Fuller said. VDSL (Very High Speed Digital Subscriber Line) is the latest in digital subscriber line technologies, which OTELCO will utilize to facilitate rapid service improvement to Blountsville, Nectar, Susan Moore, Snead and Walnut Grove.