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Bardstown Cable plans call for up to 1 Gbps download speeds

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Springhill neighborhood pilot for fiber conversion

By Randy Patrick

Bardstown Cable TV & Internet has been running fiber optic wiring to new expansions in the county for five or six years, but for the first time, it will be converting one neighborhood’s existing cable from copper coaxial to fiber.

Also, for the first time, residential customers will be able to get internet connection speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

Springhill, off U.S. 150, will be the city’s pilot project for a co-ax-to-fiber conversion project for the system. It is expected to be done sometime this spring or summer.

“This is the first one focusing on a rebuild using a slightly different technology,” City Electrical Engineer Eric Richter said.

At the completion of the project, faster speeds will be available to residents everywhere in Springhill, he said.

Currently, the city has four residential internet packages with the fastest being 100 megabits per second (Mbps). That’s been true even in new neighborhoods that have fiber, in part because they’re fiber to the home but then transition to coaxial.

In the Springhill project, however, fiber will be available into the home — but the structure of the speed packages and rates is still being determined.

“That’s kind of a question mark we’re trying to solve now,” Richter said.

Downloading and uploading speeds are important for residential customers who are into gaming, streaming movies, uploading photos to the cloud or who do “cloud work” in their businesses, Richter said.

Streaming video is taking more and more bandwidth as more providers come online, the quality of video increases and screens with higher resolution gain popularity. Video accounts for about 75 percent of global internet bandwidth usage now and is forecasted to reach over 80 percent by 2021.

Streaming giant Netflix recommends 3 Mbps for standard definition playback, but that jumps to 5 meg for high-definition and for 4K “Ultra definition” video the recommendation jumps to 25 meg.

By next year, live video is expected to make up 13 percent of global usage, according to forecasts by the networking and IT giant Cisco.

At an April 9 meeting of the City Council’s Electric and Cable Committee, Nahom Ayele, the system engineer and information technology manager, told city officials Bardstown Cable TV & Internet has been doubling speeds every couple of years while keeping rates the same.

“There is a lot of demand for faster speeds with multiple streaming and Internet connected devices in the home in addition to online gaming,” Ayele said in an email.

Richter said that, for commercial customers, the city can already give the businesses faster speeds, up to one gig, if they want a dedicated fiber connection.

“At the moment, they’re expensive,” he said of those dedicated connections.

The city can also currently offer businesses “symmetrical” connection speeds — that is, the upload and download speeds are equal.