BILOXI, Miss. — Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich made ultra-fast internet one of his campaign pledges last year and the idea is starting to move from dream to reality.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/2cxRsP9) Coast Electric is spending about $2 million to bury more than 100 miles of fiber optic cable from Hancock County to Biloxi.

“We think it’s going to be very affordable and good for the economy and quality of life of all our members,” Coast Electric Power Association President Robert Occhi.

Crews started three months ago laying cable and work is 95 percent complete in the first section from Interstate 59 in Pearl River County to Mississippi 603 near Kiln. The network will continue from there across the Coast Electric service area to Biloxi and south to Bay St. Louis.

Eventually, the Gulf Coast Broadband Initiative plan is to build a fiber ring encircling the three Coast counties and make super high-speed internet available and affordable to businesses and residents in the cities and rural areas.

Gilich and Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes teamed up a year ago to pursue a minimum of 1-Gig Internet connectivity and Hewes said it is the epitome of his “One Coast” initiative. Now 12 of 15 municipalities in South Mississippi have joined the Broadband Initiative, with just Moss Point, Pascagoula and Jackson County not part of the group.

Occhi said Coast Electric began investing in broadband for its own needs.

“Initially we just needed more bandwidth,” he said, particularly for automated meter reading.

Medical facilities, schools and industry also will benefit from the service, he said, and Coast Electric already supplies enhanced internet to industrial plants at Port Bienville Industrial Park.

“They’re always clamoring for more internet capacity,” Occhi said.


Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com