Hargray Expands To Jacksonville, ‘Lighting Up’ City’s Dark Fiber With High-Speed Services

Dec 13, 2019

South Carolina-based Hargray, which bought Dark Fiber Systems in Jacksonville earlier this year, is expanding its fiber-based connectivity offerings in the River City, bringing more high-speed television,  internet, and video conferencing service options to commercial businesses and some multi-family residential areas.

Following the purchase, Hargray added 13 jobs in Jacksonville, bringing the total to 16 full-time employees, with plans to up that number to 20 by the end of January.

Dark fiber refers to fiber optic cable that is in the ground but hasn’t been “lit," the industry term for turned on. Fiber is often laid during construction in anticipation of future use.

Hargray’s dark and lit fiber starts in Jacksonville’s urban core and runs south to Philips Highway and out to the Sunbeam Road area. It also runs west to around Interstate 10 and Beaver Street.

What that means for consumers in some newer multi-family homes, such as apartment complexes, is another choice for high-speed internet and TV service that can easily support 4K video streaming and other bandwidth-intensive needs.

Hargray's service has already rolled out in some Jacksonville apartments.

“We just finished here in the last 30 days, enabling the existing network for internet, video, cable TV-type services and voice services," said Allen Skipper, Hargray’s VP/GM of Commercial Services.

While Hargray isn't eyeing a city-wide consumer role out, the company is quickly making inroads.  Skipper said Hargray can be found in many of the newer apartments.

“In the Southside area in particular - [the]  Gate Parkway corridor - particularly around JTB,” Skipper said. Hargray also serves part of the San Marco area.

Hargray is focusing a big part of its Jacksonville efforts on businesses, signing four new customers in the hospitality industry in the last month alone.

Its highest profile local project is its involvement with the Bay Jax Innovation Corridor, which has generated a lot of buzz in the technology industry.

Hargray has fiber running along Bay Street, where autonomous vehicles that are part of the Ultimate Urban Circulator program are scheduled to be deployed by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority within a few years. The corridor is seen as a way to showcase cutting-edge technology in Jacksonville, tying together transportation, public safety, communications and perhaps even solar-powered sidewalks

“We are spending a lot of time with, you know, [with] local agencies and some of the economic development engines and even the private sector groups that are involved so that we can be aligned with the development that’s going on with Bay Jax,” Skipper said.

Other partners in the Bay Jax Innovation Corridor project include the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, North Florida TPO, JTA, the Jaguars, the Downtown Investment Authority and the Jax Chamber.

Jacksonville’s healthcare industry is another area Hargray is targeting.

“We have already earmarked a substantial amount of capital, somewhere in the 7- to $10 million range to expand the footprint [in Jacksonville]," Skipper said.

Skipper says what makes Hargray different than other high-speed communications providers is that it owns, operates and manages 100% of its fiber network. 

“There’s no AT&T or some of the other providers to get into your building. We bring that owned-and-operated fiber all the way into the customer.”

Hargray's Jacksonville TV service customers will find WJCT’s five broadcast channels at:

PBS channel 7.1 is at Hargrave channel 7

Create channel 7.2 is at Hargrave channel 109

PBS Kids channel 7.3. is at Hargrave channel 110

More! channel 7.4 is at Hargrave channel 115

World channel 7.5. is at Hargrave channel 108

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.