Mayor Jim Gray today announced an agreement with MetroNet to build a fiber-optic network in Lexington, making good on his promise to give citizens a new choice in television providers, and to transform Lexington into a gigabit city with ultrafast internet access that will attract high tech businesses and good jobs.
Indiana-based MetroNet plans to start building its fiber-optic network in January at a cost to the business of at least $70 million. The company hopes that in the summer of 2018 the first Lexington residents and businesses will be able to start receiving internet access, television packages, and phone service over fiber-optic cables, which carry data at gigabit speeds, or 1,000 megabits per second. (Watch video from news conference.)
“The people of Lexington have been crying out for a new competitor to bring improved television, faster internet speeds, and caring customer service,” Gray said. “MetroNet not only solves those problems, but it turns Lexington into the nation’s largest gigabit city, with some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. That’s the fuel needed by a University City with expanding technology jobs and advanced industries across the city.”
Today, the Urban County Council is expected to vote to put a cable franchise, requested by MetroNet, on the docket for Thursday’s Council meeting. A franchise agreement with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government is required before a telecommunications company or utility can begin work in the city’s right-of-way, where telephone poles and underground utilities are located.
MetroNet President John Cinelli said, “What attracted us to Lexington is Mayor Gray’s determination to transform Lexington into a gigabit city, and to provide citizens with a television alternative. We know we’re going to love being in Lexington -- it’s a dense, vibrant city that’s growing at a rapid pace and clearly will thrive with state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure. We’re very happy to soon be a part of the fabric of this great city.”
MetroNet has built and operated fiber-optic networks in more than 35 towns and cities in Indiana and Illinois including Evansville, its home base.
Internet data is currently delivered by companies over copper telephone wires, coaxial cable, and fiber-optic cable, which is made of glass. Over copper and coaxial cable used by telephone companies and cable-television companies, data is sent using electronic pulses, which limits the speed of transmission. Over a fiber-optic network with gigabit speeds, a 90-minute high definition movie will download in 30 seconds, rather than 30 minutes.
Gigabit cities are those with fiber-optic networks that cover the city, rather than just certain neighborhoods. Currently, Chattanooga is the nation’s only gigabit city, and Huntsville is on track to be the second. MetroNet plans to build throughout Lexington’s urban services boundary, and may move beyond that boundary. “We will go where the customers are,” said Cinelli.
“I have said that we need competition among television and internet providers in Lexington,” continued Gray. “With MetroNet’s entry into Lexington, we will be one of the few cities in the country with true competition in this sector. And we all know that competition lowers prices and improves service.”