STALLINGS – Bill Grogan remembers one year ago when he was one of 12 employees working at Ripple Fiber. Today, the internet company has grown to 91 staffers and continues to quickly expand its footprint to underserved areas of North Carolina.
Grogan, of Stallings, met with Mayor Wyatt Dunn and members of the town council Jan. 8 to explain Ripple Fiber’s desire to be a good neighbor. The company has been installing fiber infrastructure in Stallings neighborhoods since the fall.
Grogan said the company offers transparent pricing for fiber internet with no contract or added fees. And its strategy is to focus on markets where there isn’t fiber, maybe outlying areas of Mecklenburg County but mostly underserved communities.
Dunn asked the key question: When will service begin?
“Projection for service going live within our geography is based on NCDOT contracts across some critical road crossings,” Grogan replied. “I’d love to throw you a date. Our build of what we can control, which is inside the neighborhoods where we are permitted, that looks to probably wrap up within the next three months. We should be pretty well buttoned up with everything ready to go – with the exception of just some primary road crossings.”
When asked about the size of its network in Stallings, Grogan said the company is within 65% of the communities planned for construction. Shannamra, Chestnut Oaks, Collinwood and Brookhaven are some of the area neighborhoods Ripple has installed fiber in so far.
He said the work is done by hand, so there isn’t heavy equipment rolling through neighborhoods and wrecking roads.
Ripple Fiber has a place on its website where people can report construction-related issues. District 5 Council Member Steven Ayers said he had a good experience using the ticketing system.
“I did get a call the next business day,” Ayers said. “They even sent me up to the second level to answer questions. Genuinely sounded like y’all were interested in trying to resolve issues and make sure people were taken care of. I was pretty happy with the conversation.”
Ayers joked that his district needs some more yellow highlighting, alluding to the bright color that adorns Ripple Fiber vehicles.
“Everybody that I know in my district lives on Monroe Road and so those are the communities that are probably looking for you guys to come through,” Ayers said.
Grogan explained that the Monroe Road widening and other pending NCDOT projects have affected the company’s expansion plans. He said some internal changes at NCDOT could help with its expansion moving forward.
District 1 Council Member Graham Hall asked if there were any plans to expand beyond the Shannamara neighborhood.
“The reason I’m asking is, ‘If people ask, well if Shannamara is getting fiber, why aren’t we?’”
Grogan didn’t answer this question directly but pointed to Ripple’s projected growth trajectory and challenges.
He explained the Matthews area has served as a “a proof of concept.” The company planned a build-out of eight phases in Union County with Stallings consisting of two of those phases. They’ve taken on a ninth phase and added on an area west of Charlotte and other areas of the state like Pinehurst and the Outer Banks.
“Once we have our financing secure and our buildout is completed and we really get these projects with NCDOT completed, we will have a full network with redundancy built on – that will be our expansion point,” Grogan said. “So I would say probably near the end of this year, we would be ready to announce our second phase of development of Union County.”