NineStar Connect deploys fiber to Cumberland

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CUMBERLAND — NineStar Connect has deployed high-speed fiber optic service to Cumberland, providing a communications network that’s available to businesses and currently serving town government.

NineStar Connect’s latest development lays the groundwork for 1-gigabit connections — one of the fastest internet speeds — to businesses in the area.

Fiber optic availability is vital for attracting economic development, according to NineStar Connect president and CEO Michael Burrow and the Urban Land Institute’s recent study of the Mt. Comfort Corridor near Cumberland.

“It’s much like water and sewer anymore,” Burrow said. “Businesses of any size just depend on that fiber connection, and if they can’t get it, they won’t even consider locating in your area.”

April Fisher, Cumberland town manager, agrees.

“The availability of fiber optics is a box that every business checks when assessing locations for relocation, expansion and growth,” she said in a news release. “Fiber elevates our region and makes it a very attractive place to live and do business.”

Cumberland was just about the only area in Hancock County in which NineStar Connect’s fiber network was weak, Burrow said.

“Now, if a business wants to locate anywhere in the county, they can access our fiber,” he added.

According to the news release, NineStar Connect provides the area’s only synchronous service — meaning the ability to upload and download simultaneously — delivering 40 gigabits per second and higher speeds for both uploading and downloading.

“Businesses moving to Hancock County find broadband services that often are faster than those available in large urban areas,” Burrow said in the release. “Now current and future businesses in the town of Cumberland have access to high-speed fiber delivered by a local company.”

NineStar Connect, a nonprofit utility cooperative that also provides water, sewer and electric services in and around Hancock County, implemented fiber in Cumberland as part of its acquisition of Gem Water Utility from the town, which was finalized in January.

The news release reports Cumberland’s new broadband will provide more reliable communications services for town government and police.

“Reliable communications is essential for police and emergency services, and having greater data capability means that police files and back-up videos can be transmitted quickly and more easily,” Fisher said.

NineStar Connect has a commitment to get fiber to all of its members. A few of those members are on Cumberland’s north side. Burrow said the utility built off the fiber infrastructure serving those members and extended the service south along the town’s trail system.

Cumberland leaders are studying how to use the fiber lying along trails to enhance park system security. The town is considering many options, according to the release, including public WiFi, call boxes, smart lighting and surveillance cameras.