The city of West Plains will soon offer one-gigabit broadband access to its major employers with plans for citywide service in the future.
“We’re basically trying to level the playing field for small communities like West Plains,” says Todd Shanks, community marketing director for the city.
He says consumers will be able to purchase the high speed internet at market rates, which will be on par with what residents in bigger cities pay.
“What we’re doing is we’ve established basically a fiber ring around the city, and currently what we’re doing now is offering it to our major users in the community.”
Large employers are getting access to the service first, with the goal to then offer it to “smaller business, other commercial entities, and then of course to the residential sectors.”
Shanks says this will improve the quality of life in West Plains, attract potential investors, and keep current business in the city.
The fiber ring is still in the works, says Shanks. Officials will start a pilot project next summer to determine residential area capabilities. Within four years, the city hopes to offer this broadband utility to everyone.
The initiative has not gone unnoticed. This week, the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA) honored West Plains with the Buddy Bennett Community Service Award, which is given for special achievements or performance that improves the quality of life in its community.
“We were given the award based on West Plains addressing its high speed internet issues in the community. West Plains in the last year or year and a half has taken steps specifically to establish our own stand-alone broad band utility for high speed internet” says Shanks.
The city began with a community survey to determine various needs, and then marshalled support from all over the city to provide this new service.
Shanks says that “it’s almost been unanimously supported, and we look forward to offering this service and continue meeting the high speed internet needs of the community.”