Fiber optic high-speed internet will soon be offered to the city of Hillsdale by ACD after two years of preparation.
Hillsdale’s fiber optic network began in November 2014 through a contract between ACD and the Hillsdale Board of Public Utilities. The original purpose for the network was to promote efficient communication between utility services by building a ring of fiber around the city, using pre-existing utility poles. Soon, ACD will provide service to residential homes and businesses.
“The network has and will continue to do great things for the city. Fiber optic internet and cable allows for browsing and streaming speeds unimaginable ten years ago,” said Mary Wolfram, City of Hillsdale Director of Economic Development.
ACD’s optic service is renowned for its futuristic speeds and reliability. Fiber optics uses an advanced data, voice, and video processing system. The cutting-edge system is controlled by a laser, the width of a hair, sent down pieces of glass and plastic. The number of fibers ranges from 2- 288 strands, depending on the primary function of the cable. Optic fiber is typically used in buildings close in proximity to a LAN, in order to provide uninhibited bandwidth speeds for both internet and cable.
The fiber optics exist on utility poles marked with an orange flag labeled ‘ACD,’ and the installation and price charge is contingent upon the distance between the pole and the business.
“The data travels at the speed of light and is received at the endpoint by lasers. For perspective, Comcast offers a maximum of 100 megabyte internet [in Hillsdale], while ACD deploys 1000 megabyte and 10000 megabyte internet over fiber optics,” said ACD project coordinator Kevin Meeker.
The McKinsey Global Institute found that small businesses with a high-speed Internet connection reaped a 10% improvement in
productivity, stimulating job growth. Wolfram said the new internet option will encourage more businesses and entrepreneurial opportunities within the city of Hillsdale. Fiber optic networks are traditionally installed only in large cities due to the estimated $35,000/mile cost of fiber, but the Hillsdale BPU was able to secure the contract.
ACD, a longtime internet service provider for Michigan, installed fiber optic internet for a select number of state universities through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law by President Barack Obama. Merit, a nonprofit computer networking firm based out of Ann Arbor, was given a grant to connect rural communities across Michigan in order to build a secure fiber backbone.
Jeff King, owner of Aero Data, expounded on the impact a local internet provider had on his business.
“My company creates medical products and does engineering consultations, so fast internet speed is vital to our well-being. My internet speed has only diminished since I purchased it, to the point that I can’t even stream Netflix. Slow internet is driving business out of Hillsdale,” said King.
ACD has to obtain a few more permits until they can fully offer their services across the city of Hillsdale.
“We are working in tandem with the county to bring fiber optic closer to downtown Hillsdale underground to avoid construction on existing roads. We expect it to be finished in a few months,” said Meeker.
Meeker expressed his excitement on offering optic fiber internet and cable services to residential areas for the first time, and encouraged others to look into the speed differences.
“No matter if you are trading stocks or playing video games, once you experience fiber optic internet, there is no going back,” said King.