In Hopkinsville, Kentucky, “the idea that [Internet] connectivity is a luxury” will soon be a relic of the past. The city’s municipal electric provider, Hopkinsville Electric System (HES), is currently working through its Internet service, EnergyNet, to bring Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) to all premises.
EnergyNet has offered fiber Internet service for over 10 years to local businesses, but in January 2018, HES made the special announcement that it would soon be providing the same service to all local residences, with the goal of making Hopkinsville the next “gig city.” The General Manager of HES, Jeff Herd, explained that by offering fiber Internet service, HES “is looking ahead and building infrastructure not only for today’s needs, but any future needs [Hopkinsville] might have as it relates to connectivity.”
While the current plan is to offer citywide FTTH, HES is building out the network one neighborhood at a time. Hopkinsville residents can register their interest for service on the EnergyNet website and neighborhoods with the most reported interest will be served first.
All options are symmetrical, and subscribers can choose from three tiers of service:
- $59.95 per month for 200 Mbps
- $79.95 per month for 500 Mbps
- $99.95 per month for for 1,000 Mbps (1 Gigabit)
The Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) has approved $4.3 million in loans to Hopkinsville Electric System in order to make the expansion happen. Past KIA loans have focused on loans to communities for water and wastewater infrastructure projects, but their Fund C program also provides loans for publicly owned broadband infrastructure.
Changing with the Times
Hopkinsville, Kentucky is the county seat of Christian County in western Kentucky near the Tennessee border. The town of just under 32,000 is home to a wide variety of industries and manufacturing, including the headquarters and primary manufacturing facility for Ebonite International, a company that produces 60 percent of the world’s bowling balls. The area additionally has strong agricultural roots dating back to the 18th century centered on corn, winter wheat, and tobacco.
Hopkinsville leaders believe that universal fast and reliable Internet will not only meet the needs of existing residents and industry, it will help Hopkinsville recruit the next wave of industry, new businesses, and new residents. Former General Manager of HES, Austin Carroll, backed the project, stating that fiber Internet service is “one of the things people look for now when they move to a new location and companies in particular are dependent on it now.”
HES, originally established 76 years ago, first started distributing Internet services through EnergyNet in 1999. HES made the decision to start pursuing FTTH in order to meet growing community demands for increased Internet speeds. When EnergyNet first started offering Internet service, Carroll described how it was not fast enough to meet the bandwidth needs of a local E-commerce company causing the company to relocate to Columbus, Ohio. By establishing its FTTH network and becoming one of the few gig cities in the country, Hopkinsville is now taking every measure to ensure that it does not miss another similar opportunity.
Hopkinsville Mayor Hendricks Carter has expressed great enthusiasm for the project. He stated:
“I coach track and field in the spring and when you’re a track coach you really like two things— being fast and winning. Thinking about Hopkinsville being a gig city, that is what it’s going to do— going to help us have faster Internet speeds and connectivity and help us win in the twenty-first century.”