Fiber optic network coming to Demopolis

Published 11:36 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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It’s not here yet, but a fiber optic network bringing high-speed internet is coming to Demopolis and Marengo County.

George Henry, CEO of Yellowhammer Networks, told members of the Demopolis Rotary Club Wednesday, March 13, that his firm will oversee the contractors who will install the network. 

Already he has set up an office on Washington Street to serve as headquarters for the local section of the project, even though he does not expect actual work to start for another “year-and-a-half-ish.” Once begun, the Demopolis installation will take between nine and 12 months, depending on the condition of the utility poles the company will use and whether cable must be buried.

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Construction is going on throughout west central Alabama. 

“I have 3 ½ years to get all of that done,” Henry said. 

One of the main goals is “not just did we string 3,000, 3,500 miles of fiber optics, but did we, in 17 cities and nine counties, actually drive closure of a physical divide, did we drive closure of physical equity,” he said.

Partial funding for the work is being paid for through the Rural Development Opportunity Fund. In February ADECA, through the governor’s office, awarded his company Middle-Mile and Last-Mile grants.

“We are well positioned to make things happen,” Henry said. “Before I took this position, I wanted to make sure the investment committee had funding. As you might imagine, laying fiber optic is expensive.”

Henry, a former city manager for Alabaster, said his company works closely with city and county officials since it is very important to have public/private partnerships. Demopolis Mayor Woody Collins was the first mayor to sign with Yellowhammer, which, Henry said, was greatly appreciated. 

“We want to be engaged and be available,” he said.  

County commissioner Jason Windham added that Henry and his company are “putting a footprint in this community.”

Henry expects there will be between 50 and 70 people working on the project. When it is completed, it will service at least 90 percent of the city. Having fiber optics will allow users to get into the 1,000-megabit speed.

But his company will be keeping a low profile. 

“You guys will not know Yellowhammer,” Henry stressed. What the residents of the area will know is the internet service provider (ISP) that will offer broadband services. The ISP provider probably will be Omnipoint, he added.