READING, Pa. – A new company says it will build an all-fiber cable network that will offer ultra-fast internet to support remote working, distance learning, streaming, gaming, cloud connectivity and more.
FastBridge Fiber will start construction on the network this fall, with internet and transport data services becoming available to residents and businesses in some areas in late 2022, company Chief Executive Officer Eric Warren said.
The greater Reading area will be the first market for Fastbridge, Warren said. It will have “the fastest and most reliable technology available, period,” he said. “And we’re building it to neighborhoods where fiber isn’t available.”
Prices will range from $50 to $95 a month, it says. FastBridge also said it will have no data caps, free professional installation and simple month-to-month pricing plans.
The business, which has temporary headquarters on Sixth Street in Reading, is supported by equity financing from client accounts of Guggenheim Investments, Warren said.
Warren described himself as someone who has worked in the industry for almost 30 years, “building fiber networks around the country.”
He said that three or four years ago, he got more focused on fiber-to-the-home type of networks and that company sold and I wanted to go do something on my own.”
He said FastBridge Fiber still has to become a licensed utility with the state of Pennsylvania and work with the local municipalities to operate in them. He said the company will meet with Reading officials Wednesday.
The next step would be “we need to build, literally, new wires, into your house – lay new fiber in the neighborhoods and build from the neighborhood streets and connect it directly onto your house,” he said.
“The way I describe it is fiber is quickly becoming the third utility to ever home,” he said. “It’s water/sewer, it’s power, and it’s quickly becoming broadband, preferably fiber.”
“It’s a huge investment in Berks,” he said. He said the company’s goal is “to hire lots of people in Berks County. I’ve got lots of great job openings right now that are posted.”
Warren said that while the Reading area is the initial market, “I would like to figure out how to do more in Berks. I haven’t really gotten there yet.”
“I feel very fortunate to work in an industry where we really enrich these communities by giving them choice, by bringing in a utility,” he said.
On its website, FastBridge says, “every aspect of our lives has changed profoundly with the Internet. We rely on our Internet connection for work, healthcare, education, entertainment, shopping, and communicating with our friends and family.”
FastBridge says its network will be built with “today’s customers” in mind: those with multiple connected devices demanding the fastest speed and highest reliability.
But Warren said fiber’s “super, super fast internet” will especially benefit small businesses.
“Small businesses in Reading have been using residential cable networks designed for video, and that’s really the only option they really have,” he said. “No one is willing to bring these smaller businesses fiber optics, and we’re going to be doing that.
“It’s a really important point… it’s really critical for small businesses. Small businesses are leveraging technology, need more and more bandwidth than ever, and they have no options.”
Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach was quoted in FastBridge’s announcement as saying, “FastBridge Fiber building infrastructure in our county to bring fiber-optic internet to our community is very exciting.
“We welcome the opportunity for the residents and businesses in Berks County to have a new option for broadband services.”
Warren said “everyone in Reading has been unbelievably friendly and open-minded and sees this as a huge advantage and a necessity for the community.”
FastBridge Fiber’s announcement comes less than a month after Comcast announced May that it would expand its services in Berks County.
Comcast said that by fall, it will be able to make its fiber optic cable and high-speed internet available to more than 8,300 new residential and business customers in areas of Exeter and Amnity townships and St. Lawrence.
The project is underway and expected to be completed by the end of 2023, it said.
Parts of Berks already are served by Service Electric, Verizon and Xfinity and other providers.