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.