Pinnacle pushes Arkansas’ only broad 1 gigabit Internet service

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 334 views 

Through what have been more than $6.55 million in investments that began in 2006, Pinnacle Communications is now offering one gigabit Internet service to its about 1,000 customers in and around Lavaca. It’s the only exchange in Arkansas to offer the speed to all customers.

The service in the Sebastian County city west of Fort Smith was rolled out on Thursday (Oct. 16). Pinnacle President Keith Gibson said the service puts Lavaca on the map with much bigger cities.

“Google has rolled out 1 Gig service in Kansas City, and AT&T has plans to provide the service in Atlanta, St. Louis, Miami, Chicago and other cities,” Gibson said in a statement. “Because we made the decision several years ago to rebuild our territory with fiber to every home and business, we are now in a position, after significant investment in upgrades, to offer Gigabit service to our customers in the beautiful rural community of Lavaca.”

The Arkansas Telecommunications Association confirmed that Pinnacle is the only telecom company in Arkansas to provide the service to all customers. Some companies may offer a gigabit to some customers, but not across their entire network.

A gigabit, in terms of Internet service, allows for 1 billion bits of information to be transferred each second.

John Zeiler, general manager at Pinnacle, said the work that allowed for a gigabit of speed began in 2006 when the company invested $6 million in a “Fiber to The Home” project. The worked pushed a fiber optic cable to each home or business in the Pinnacle system.

Another $550,000 was spent on switching platforms, a new fiber drive and other components needed to better connect customers on Pinnacle’s network to the Internet.

The basic charge for phone service through Pinnacle is $20 per month. The charge for phone and the new Internet service is $199 per month.

“We have not developed Gigabit pricing without phone service due to complex pricing mechanism within the National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA) that necessitates a higher price to us for than wholesale option of Internet only,” Zeiler said in an e-mail interview with The City Wire.

Zeiler said in Arkansas the company has about 870 residential customers and about 130 business customers. He said 63% of the total customer base subscribes to their Internet service.

Gibson said in his statement that the new service also has an economic development bonus for the region.

“In a community like Lavaca, having this service provides easy and immediate access to the information and tools necessary to allow doctors, lawyers, salespersons, and others to be productive from home. It also is an exciting service opportunity for those businesses who desire satellite or remote offices, such as a local health care provider who can be connected to a main clinic or hospital.”

Telecoms like Cox Communications and CenturyLink make 1 gigabit service available in certain communities or on a case-by-case basis. For example, on Aug. 5, CenturyLink announced that 1 gigabit service was available in 16 cities. None of those cities were in Arkansas.

In its “Game of Gig: You Upgrade or You Die,” report made public in August, Gig.U said momentum is growing behind efforts to provide 1 gigabit service around the country. Gig.U began three years ago by 36 “research university communities” with a goal “to accelerate the deployment of next-generation broadband networks to enhance educational and economic development.”

The report noted that “radical” recent moves are pushing that goal toward reality.

“Through a combination of efforts, scores of American communities, including over a dozen Gig.U communities, are now deeply engaged in deploying of such networks. Many of these, like our own efforts, were initiated by communities. Now, however, in a radical change in the past 12 months, multiple service providers are initiating their own efforts.”