Fiber optic firm investing millions in Quad-Cities
Ron DeBrock with Dispatch Argus reports Uniti Fiber’s investment in Quad-Cities.
DAVENPORT — Uniti Fiber on Tuesday announced it plans to offer Ethernet services of up to 200 gigabits per second in the Quad-Cities.
One gigabit is 1,000 megabits, the fastest speed currently available in the Quad-Cities based on a web search of local providers. Uniti said the state-of-the-art data transport system is attractive to firms that move large packets of data electronically, such as medical centers and schools.
Greg Ortyl, senior vice president of sales for the Florida-based firm, said Uniti plans to put about $5 million in the Quad-Cities over the next five years during the first stage of its investment. The company plans to double that investment over the next few years, he said.
He said the work includes two Mississippi River fiber crossings and creating about 80 fiber strand miles “from scratch” over the next 18 months. According to the company, the project will make Uniti the only firm in the Quad-Cities to offer “dark fiber,” or unused fiber-optic cable, to major wireless operators.
“We’re going to be doing most of it (network construction) by the end of this year,” said Mr Ortyl, who is based in St. Louis. “It should be pretty exciting for the Quad-Cities.”
Mr. Ortyl said the network is designed to support the 4G — fourth generation -— services of one of America’s top four wireless carriers. Contractual agreements prevent him from disclosing which carrier.
“What’s really exciting is we’ll be laying the foundation for the fifth generation, 5G, in the upcoming years,” he said. “The applications 5G allows for are pretty mind-boggling.”
Mr. Ortyl said the company has not decided if it will establish a Quad-Cities office. He said the firm will employ local people to build the network, adding the company’s presence in Galesburg, Peoria and Macomb helped steer the firm to the Quad-Cities.
In a news release, Uniti Fiber President Ron Mudry said the project will provide new and enhanced connectivity options with major commercial data centers from Chicago to St. Louis.
“This investment solidifies potential growth opportunities for the area, particularly for industries like healthcare, data centers, financial services and other companies requiring high-speed networks looking to establish a presence in these regions,” he said.
Currently, Uniti’s infrastructure includes more than 590,000 fiber strand miles over a 19-state region, connecting more than 5,200 customer locations with local access to more than 2,500 municipalities and dozens of utilities.
“We have a pretty substantial network throughout the state of Illinois,” said Mr. Ortyl. “We like to focus on the smaller markets that might not have as much competition.”
Uniti is a division of Communications Sales and Leasing Inc., a real estate investment trust publicly traded on the NASDAQ stock market under the ticker symbol CSAL.