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Founded in Marked Tree in 1906, Ritter Communications has evolved from a local telephone and cable company into “a rapidly growing regional broadband fiber provider,” CEO Alan Morse says.
Over the past 12 years, starting in Jonesboro, the company’s headquarters, Ritter has expanded its fiber footprint to serve 106 communities across Arkansas and the mid-South.
Along the way, Ritter has invested about $300 million to roll out 4,000 route-miles of gigabit or multi-gigabit fiber internet connections for businesses.”
Since the COVID pandemic began, Ritter has also worked to address consumers’ evolving internet usage patterns by building fiber to homes in cities like Stuttgart, Augusta, Brinkley, Searcy and Jonesboro.
“The pandemic validated the need for high speed broadband at the home to enable remote
work, virtual school and telemedicine,” Morse said. “We’re rapidly getting to the point where every customer on our network can get at least a gigabit of speed.”
Ritter has also added new business as state and federal governments have pushed high-speed broadband access. “We’ve been fortunate to partner with the state of Arkansas for over $66 million of new fiber builds. Most recently, we’ve been tapped to build new fiber network in Independence County and Crittenden County.”
Additional pending grants, if approved, would result in a partnership with the state that could total up to $160 million for Ritter fiber deployment. “We’re very proud that the state is confident in our capabilities,” Morse said, “and being locally based, we’re passionate about closing the digital divide in Arkansas.”
Ritter currently has over 400 employees and expects to add 100 new positions in the next year. Ritter also recently built and launched a state-of-the-art data center – the only one of its kind in the region – that lets business customers access cloud infrastructure or remote servers, and can provider disaster and data-recovery services. “Customers expressed a need for those products and a regional data center facility,” Morse said, “and we saw it as a logical extension of our historical connectivity product suite.”