This appeared in print as part of the story “Best Laid Plans” In 2007, the City of Columbia’s visioning document suggested that council...
Is increasing productivity something your business would benefit from? If so, this column is for you. This month, we’re looking at fiber-based internet service in Columbia. Having fast and reliable internet can and will increase productivity for most businesses. However, this has been the number one technology issue I’ve experienced while working with businesses in Columbia. Columbia has had fast and reliable internet, but until recently, it’s been at prices out of reach for many businesses in the community.
Getting a little tech-y now: Why is fiber so much better? To start, it offers faster, top-end speeds over longer distances with less loss of signal. Translation: you can move more data, phone calls, emails, or critical business transactions faster over a greater distance with greater reliability. Fiber is also thinner, more secure, more durable, and requires less networking hardware and maintenance than its older sibling, copper. These attributes equate to lower long-term operating costs and cheaper prices for you. Faster and more affordable Internet makes it more attractive for startups and branches of large corporations. It also keeps local businesses local, as the internet allows them to compete on a state, national, and global stage.
How does Columbia compare in terms of fiber-based internet pricing and availability? In short, Columbia has more options and better pricing than most cities of similar size. Green Bay, Wisconsin and Cedar Rapids, Iowa are two that fall behind Columbia, but there is always room to improve — we aren’t number one yet. Luckily, the Internet providers in Columbia are working right now to expand their fiber footprint and bring it into your building. The competition between providers benefits your business, with pricing starting at less than $100 per month.
Based on my conversations with several Internet providers servicing Columbia, fiber availability is nearly 100 percent for business and over 25 percent for residential. The networks have been built for the future, with support for connection speeds of 1 gigabit per second. Columbia was one of 10 cities that CenturyLink chose to roll out Fiber to the Home, or FTTH, and matching business services. Socket has been working for years on rural and local fiber-based services in Callaway and Boone counties for both residential and business. BlueBird Network is a combination of BlueBird Media, Missouri Network Alliance, and Illinois Network Alliance, with fiber availability in Columbia and across the Midwest for business customers. Mediacom and Charter offer fiber-based services in Columbia for business customers. These and other providers have created networks that cover the entire city. Running it to your doorstep is just a matter of time.
I can honestly say that Columbia has the Internet service required for businesses in 2016 and beyond. My recommendation is to buy Internet based on the needs of your business and compare pricing across all providers that service your area. All you have to do is call.