PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Parkersburg is now a 1-Gig city.
Officials with Suddenlink Communications announced on Tuesday the upgrade to the area’s bandwidth speed at a gathering made up of local officials from around the area.
“We are doing something in West Virginia no one else has done,” said Michael Kelemen, Suddenlink spokesman.
“We are launching a 1-Gig service in Parkersburg, Marietta, New Martinsville and all the way down to Point Pleasant and east into Roane County and Jackson County.
“We will be doing something that no one else is doing.”
The company has invested over $250 million in network improvements since it acquired Charter Communications in 2006.
Suddenlink has been providing speeds of 50-Meg to 400-Meg.
“If you look at downloading the Encyclopedia Britannica, at 3-Meg it would take approximately three days,” Kelemen said. “At 400-Meg, it would take approximately three hours.
“At 1-Gig, it would take two minutes.”
Only around eight percent of the country currently have the 1-Gig capacity.
“Very few companies are doing this kind of investment without some kind of subsidy,” Kelemen said.
Currently, the Wood County area is one of the more rural areas to have this capacity.
Suddenlink is the eighth largest employer in Wood County.
“That is a great testament for us,” Kelemen said. “We do a great many things here and the technology available is usually available first in Parkersburg.
“We always look at the Parkersburg area as our flagship area.”
In a video message, U.S. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., praised the announcement, saying this was another step forward in bridging the digital divide in West Virginia.
“I am thrilled Suddenlink is now offering faster internet service throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley,” she said. “Parkersburg is now officially a Gig city.
“Improving broadband service has been one of my top priorities. High-speed internet is a pillar of our 21st Century infrastructure and a gateway to economic growth.”
Officials highlighted what having this capacity locally could mean for economic development.
Manufacturing companies, retail companies, healthcare facilities, technology companies and others can all use this capacity to be able to do a wide variety of functions within their businesses. It has the ability to upload extremely large documents and information quickly, officials said.
“I can’t think of any business that wouldn’t be able to use it,” Kelemen said. “These new services will be game changers.”
The area now has a feature that appeals to a wide variety of businesses that operate globally, said Peter Brown, Suddenlink Vice President of Operations, Atlantic Region.
“It will be a huge attraction for economic development,” he said. “When larger companies come in, they want to understand that you have the where-with-all and capability of a great broadband infrastructure. You can say that without a doubt today.”
Broadband capabilities are one of the things many large companies look at in an area they may want to locate in, Kelemen said.
“This will provide a new gateway for business to be able to open up and do business here,” he said.
Suddenlink is working to remain ahead of the curve in developing, upgrading its systems and expanding bandwidth.
“We will continue to roll out these services throughout our footprint in 2016,” Kelemen said. “We know that there is more appetite for bandwidth.
“We know we have to be ahead of that curve.”
This capacity can open the area up for a number of possibilities, said Dave Bach, Senior Vice President of Operations, Atlantic Region.
“It gives you the power to operate globally,” he said. “You have an open invitation to anyone to come in and see what infrastructure you have.
“They will say this is good. This can attract anyone looking to have a high tech position. Business requires this bandwidth, but it will also be available at the residential level.”
This should improve how West Virginia is viewed nationally and globally, said Robert Daleo, Suddenlink Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
“It is a connection to the rest of the world that is faster than almost anywhere in the United States,” he said.
Suddenlink will be updating systems to spread this service across all the areas they serve.
“Folks will be eager for us to build out,” Daleo said. “It is really exciting.”
Inadequate bandwidth will no longer be a hindrance for the area to attract business.
“Those days are gone,” Kelemen said. “There is no reason they can’t come to Parkersburg.”