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Gigabit Internet coming to Rock Hill

February 15, 2014 

Matt Dosch, Comporium vice president for external affairs, announces Zipstream, a Gigbit Internet service for downtown Rock Hill

DON WORTHINGTON — dworthington@heraldonline.com

  • In summary

    Gigabit Internet is likely to be a key building block in the development of Rock Hill’s Knowledge Park.

A bit, in computerese, is a way to measure the amount of data that is transferred in a second between two telecommunication points.

A kilobit is 1,000 bits, and a megabit is 1 million bits. A gigabit is 1 billion bits, and gigabit Internet service is coming to Rock Hill.

The service, Called Zipstream, will be offered by Comporium Communications. The technical details of this new technology require a fairly sophisticated understanding of how computers work, but suffice to say that Zipstream is fast – 85 times faster than what currently is available in downtown Rock Hill.

That means that those customers who are equipped with the service will be able to surf the Internet, download movies and other materials, and transfer data much faster than they can now. And faster functions not only increase convenience for residential customers, they also significantly expands options for commercial users.

In short, this is a big deal for Rock Hill, which, when the system becomes operative this summer, would be the first gigabit city in South Carolina.

The gigabit service is more than simply an upgrade of the current service offered by Comporium. It is viewed by city planners as an essential component in the development of “Knowledge Park.” Rock Hill’s economic development effort to turn the area between Winthrop University and downtown, including the former site of the Rock Hill Printing & Finishing Co., into a high-tech business park.

Comporium officials have been pondering the upgrade for a year. Bryant Barnes, Comporium’s president and CEO, estimated the cost for new fiber, switches and related infastructure would be between $500,000 and $750,000.

That’s a significant investment on Comporium’s part but one that also could result in high returns down the road. The high-speed service also should help attract new high-tech entrepreneurs, such as software and web development companies.

Two companies already operating downtown, RevenFlo and Span Enterprises, say the service will allow them to expand services and ultimately save money.

“Today’s Internet is the new railroad and Comporium is building us a depot,” said Jason Broadwater, founder of RevenFlo, at the announcement of the new service. He also is co-founder of the Hive Business Center, which allows students from Winthrop University and York Tech to put their software and web development skills to practical use.

Keeping Hive-developed talent in town is one of the strategies of the Knowledge Park initiative. And the introduction of gigabit service should considerably boost that effort.

The technical terms thrown around by those closely associated with the Knowledge Park project might sound like a foreign language to average residents who have trouble programming the remote controls for their TVs. But the Knowledge Park plan has the support of city leaders and the local business community.

It also is being engineered by a development firm with expertise in successfully overseeing similar projects in other cities. And Knowledge Park will tie in with research and teaching projects at Winthrop.

The new high-speed Internet service is one of the key building blocks in making all this happen. While many of us may not be entirely sure what gigabit Internet is, we should welcome its impending arrival in Rock Hill.

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