Congratulations to TVPPA member Huntsville Utilities for receiving a “Gig City Award” from the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) at Fiber Connect 2021 along with the City of Huntsville, the Huntsville Madison County Chamber, The Broadband Group and Google Fiber. The award was presented on Tuesday, July 27 during the optical fiber business and technology event held at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Through this collaborative initiative, these groups brought increased fiber connectivity to communities across Huntsville, Ala., improving economic development and quality of life.

The project furthers Huntsville’s deep-rooted history of innovation, science and technology. Known as “Rocket City”, it supported the launch of the Space Race with the establishment of NASA, the Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Huntsville Utilities initiated the project when it recognized the need for additional fiber infrastructure for its own internal communication and operational needs. It partnered with The Broadband Group, a leading telecommunications consulting and business advisory firm, to create a Utility Lease Model. As electric utilities adopt grid modernization initiatives, the model enables them to build or expand fiber optic networks and include excess fiber capacity to be used by third-party tenants.

“Huntsville’s fiber initiative is truly commendable and demonstrates the value of citywide fiber networks,” said Gary Bolton, President and CEO at FBA. “Huntsville Utilities created a new model by building out the broadband infrastructure and leasing dark fiber to ISPs to deliver fiber-based multigigabit services across the entire city. It was able to create an attractive service for existing and new subscribers with a network that can easily scale to support robust connectivity that Huntsville’s residents and businesses need now and expect in the future.”

For Huntsville Utilities, Google Fiber was the first tenant to deploy multigigabit broadband services to residential and small business customers. As a result, Huntsville led the country for the biggest jump in internet speeds from February 2020 to February 2021 in an analysis by In a May 2021 study, Huntsville ranked 12th for the fastest internet speeds in the nation.

“Our partnership with Google Fiber was the catalyst for investment in broadband across our community,” said Wes Kelley, President and CEO at Huntsville Utilities. “Today, we enjoy healthy competition in this market, which means our residents and businesses have abundant attractive broadband options. Importantly for Huntsville Utilities, our fiber investment is strengthening our utilities and the efficiencies of Huntsville’s municipal services.”