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06.21.2019 / Community News

Rocket Fiber Celebrates 5 Years of Internet Excellence

In 2014, a light bulb turned on – one that would reimagine the way that Detroit experiences high speed internet service.

The moment occurred during a regular brainstorming session at the Rock ‘Family of Companies,’ where members of the IT Team were challenged to explore new ideas that could positively impact the company or the city at large. The idea of the challenge was to think big – to shoot for the moon (or “moon shots” as they’re referred to internally); regardless of what the competition was doing, or what the market demanded. In one such meeting, Rocket Fiber Co-Founder and CEO Marc Hudson pitched an idea: What if Detroit had fiber internet?

The concept wasn’t completely foreign; fiber internet services were beginning to expand across the country. But at that time, Detroit had recently become the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy in United States history, making it an unattractive candidate to outside investors. After several meetings with large fiber companies, Hudson and Co. quickly realized that for a project of this scale, a Detroit company would have to lay the foundation.

With the support of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures founder Dan Gilbert, a small team was assembled to design a backbone of fiber lines that would attempt to transverse the digital divide in Detroit’s under-serviced downtown neighborhoods.

And thus, Rocket Fiber was born.

From Ambitious Tech Start-up to Big-time Internet Contender

Today, Rocket Fiber employs more than 80 individuals whose diverse set of skills allow the company to navigate any problems or hurdles that may arise. But in the beginning, Rocket Fiber was made up of just a handful of team members who worked day and night to map a network of fiber lines using pre-existing construction projects.

“It turned out to be great timing when the M-1 rail was being developed on Woodward Avenue – which is one of our main corridors here in Detroit – because it was essentially being opened to the studs,” says VP of Development Walter Amicucci.

“We used that construction opportunity to lay fiber lines down Woodward Avenue from Jefferson Avenue all the way to the New Center area,” he recalls. “And from there, that idea, that construction, and the timing and everything behind it became something of a well-laid plan.”

At that time, Rocket Fiber was largely focused on providing residential fiber internet service, first testing its capabilities at the Albert and Malcomson apartment buildings in downtown Detroit. As the company began to grow, however, so did the scale of its offerings. Soon, Rocket Fiber was gaining support from major business clients like Ally Bank, Bedrock, Cobo Center, Henry Ford Hospital, and Ford Field. These early partnerships were just a few of the “moon shot” successes that helped lend to the company’s early legitimacy as Detroit’s premier internet and managed services provider.

According to Amicucci, Rocket Fiber’s tenacity for pursuing moon shots is a core part of the company’s success.

“We don’t really think about whether it’s something the competition is doing or not,” shares Amicucci. “If we think it’s something worth doing we’re going to go for it.”

Today, Rocket Fiber has expanded its services beyond Detroit so that businesses in cities such as Troy and Southfield are also able to benefit from an elevated internet experience.

More Than Just Your Basic Wi-Fi

Though Rocket Fiber has built its name on high speed fiber internet, these days the company considers itself to be a technology partner rather than simply an internet service provider. For clients like Shinola Hotel, Rocket Fiber went above and beyond providing basic internet service by designing a custom infrastructure to assist the hotel’s basic management functions.

At its core, the custom network provides a Wi-Fi connection throughout the hotel, however, Rocket Fiber’s managed network services also helps the hotel to manage some of its key functions like room and building access. This infrastructure also ensures that tenants of the Shinola Hotel’s retail complex (including Madcap Coffee and Good Neighbor) benefit from being on the same network allowing for seamless service and client experience.

These are just a few of the ways that Rocket Fiber is able to cater to specific business needs. Beyond its end-to-end managed network support, Rocket Fiber also assists businesses with data hosting and cloud services, as well as voice services such as call center routing and advanced voice feature sets.

Cheers to 5 Years!

On April 14th 2019, Rocket Fiber brought together clients, partners, and team members to celebrate five years of excellent internet service. At an event hosted by newly signed client Eastern Market Brewing Company, guests enjoyed pizza catered by Supino Pizzeria, wine from Detroit’s own House of Pure Vin, as well as “Cat Dad”, a specialty NEDIPA beer brewed at EMBC with the help of some of Rocket Fiber’s own team members. This demonstrates just one example of how Rocket Fiber is partnering with local businesses to cultivate among Detroit’s diverse entrepreneurs.

Amidst the celebration, Mayor Duggan’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Elisa Malile, stopped by and showed support by presenting Rocket Fiber with an achievement award for 5 years of business in the city of Detroit.

Looking to the future, there is plenty to be excited about at Rocket Fiber. Whether it is expanding its internet services to Southeast Michigan, or navigating the challenging new terrain of 5G internet, Rocket Fiber is poised and ready to tackle new obstacles, new markets, and ever-innovating technologies.

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