Editor’s note: Charlotte Beat is a regular feature on Wednesdays.As a new 140-acre development called the Town of Ayrsley takes shape this year south of downtown, a transformed company will be providing a key part of its infrastructure.

Springboard Telecom was selected earlier this month as the preferred communications provider for the $500 million project by the developers, Cambridge Partners.

Peak 10, a web-hosting firm whose state-of-the-art data center is located nearby, will serve as the hub for Springboard’s operation. Cambridge also is building the 185-acre Cambridge Technology Park that adjoins the Ayrsley project and is where Peak 10 built its Charlotte headquarters.

“It’s an engineer’s dream, and I tell you what, we’ve got some good news,” Rick Brashear, general manager of Springboard, tells Local Tech Wire. “This is really something special — from the technology we will have out there in the infrastructure to what Cambridge is building in the community and what Peak 10 is offering.”

Part of what excites Brashear is how the project is triggering the transformation of Springboard. A subsidiary of South Carolina-based Comporium Communications, Springboard has been a re-seller under its own brand of telephony services provided by other companies such as BellSouth.

Building own facilities

But the Ayrsley project is the catalyst that will turn five-year-old Springboard into a full-fledged telecommunications provider with its own network, switches, Internet access and control of the services to be provided.

“We have got the opportunity to make sure all the pieces are in place and build a next-generation network,” says Brashear, who has been with Springboard for three years. “This is our first full facilities based project. We have been progressing slowly toward facilities based. It’s a natural progression for us.”

Springboard’s plan is to lay a fiber ring around the entire 144-acre project and off of that sell high-speed Internet as well as local and long distance telephony service. High-speed wireless service also is planned.

“Our original business plan always anticipated us moving in this direction,” Brashear explains. “The second thing that makes this even more significant is the current trend at the FCC. It is under pressure from the Bell companies to change how they sell unbundled services (such as voice, which companies like Springboard bought at discount rates, re-branded and resold) world.

“We wanted to be in the position that if the FCC did change it would not have a significant impact on us.”

The FCC could alter its rules as early as next week.

“We’ll be rolling trucks when a customer wants a DSL modem installed,” Brashear says. “We’re effectively building a telephone company from scratch.”

While Brashear wouldn’t disclose any financial details, he concedes the project will cost “millions of dollars.”

Springboard also is not starting from scratch. Many of the infrastructure services, such as the fiber operation, will be provided by its parent, Comporium, a 100-year-old telecommunications firm based in nearby Rock Hill, SC. Comporium was once known as Rock Hill Telephone Company.

Helping Springboard jumpstart the process is Peak 10, which agreed to host much of Springboard’s equipment and services. The contract, announced earlier this week, means Springboard won’t have to build its own costly command and control center. Brashear points using Peak 10 will save Springboard a substantial amount of capital.

“When we got into this process, we had a chance to tour the Peak 10 facilities. We got to see their whole infrastructure, their security, their network operations center, and really it is state of the art, first class,” Brashear says. “As we talked with their people, we saw that they had a similar vision to ours.

“Both companies want to provide state of the art technology to the south end of Charlotte, and it just seemed like a good fit.

“Having a data center there already and being able to drop in equipment also cuts off weeks, maybe months, for deployment time. We could have built a facility, but suddenly you’re talking about fiber in and out, emergency contingencies, and all the things Peak 10 is already good at, things it would take us years to get in place.”

Peak 10 prepared, GM says

Springboard will install its switch to hub its network at Peak 10’s building, which is two years old. From there, Springboard will use Peak 10’s multiple fiber connections for Internet service. Voice traffic will be piped to Rock Hill for switching to the carrier networks.

Pat O’Brien, the vice president and general manager for Peak 10 in Charlotte, says the company is prepared to host a telecommunications firm with all the demands for redundancy, security and power required.

“We have three local fiber rings, four ISP connections to on-ramp to the Internet, and we have four different data centers operated by Peak 10 that are all interconnected with our own network,” O’Brien says. “This is not the first telecommunications company we have worked with.”

Town of Ayrsley is a “smart growth” planned community and is designed with a heavy emphasis on pedestrian access. Cambridge describes the community’s design as “compact”. It will include apartments and townhomes for some 1,600 residents over the next three years and ultimately will be home to 4,500 employees. A variety of business locations are included as well, including hotels, a YMCA, doctors’ offices, a movie theater, retail outlets and office space.

Springboard: www.justonestop.net

Peak 10: www.peak10.com