Bloomington, Ill., Considers Adding ISP that Would Offer Fiber-to-the-Home

MetroNet seeks to deploy a 100 percent fiber-optic network throughout the city, which would connect directly to customers' homes or businesses.

by Maria Nagle, The Pantagraph, Bloomington, Ill. / April 27, 2016

(TNS) -- The Bloomington, Ill., City Council will consider whether to add another Internet, cable television and phone provider to the city.

MetroNet, an Evansville, Ind.-based company, has requested a cable TV franchise from the city to offer fiber-to-the-home broadband internet, voice and video services to residential and business customers in Bloomington.

A public hearing will precede any council action on the matter when it meets at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

"Unlike existing service offerings in the city from Comcast and Frontier, which use copper cable, MetroNet seeks to deploy a 100 percent fiber optic network throughout the city, which would connect directly to customers' homes or place of business," said Bloomington Economic Development Coordinator Austin Grammer in a memo recommending approval.

MetroNet says it can deliver data at up to a gigabit per second. That speed would rival the Central Illinois Regional Broadband Network that since 2013 has offered its fiber-optic Internet network to local entities, including school districts, higher education, health-care agencies, municipalities, libraries, not-for-profit agencies and businesses — but not residences.

Cable television companies enter into agreements with municipalities that permit the firms to use municipal right-of-way for cable installation in return for payments to the city for that privilege, said Grammer.

The amount received as compensation would be consistent with previous cable TV franchise agreements and is the maximum permitted by federal law unless the city finds facts showing the cost of administering the agreement justifies a higher amount, he added.

In other action, the council will consider increasing liquor license fees for the first time in 34 years and creating a new annual video gambling fee of $500 per machine. By state law, up to five video gambling terminals are permitted per establishment licensed to sell liquor. Last year, there were 59 establishments with 253 machines in the city.

The council also will consider approving contracts to begin street, alley and sidewalk repairs totaling about $4.7 million.

Money for the projects is included in the 2017 fiscal year budget under capital improvement-street construction and improvement.

The council is being asked to authorize two contracts for Rowe Construction in the amounts of $2.4 million to resurface larger volume streets and widen Linden Street from Locust to Empire streets; and $1.3 million to resurface lower volume streets and alleys.

Rowe was the lone bidder for the two projects.

Aldermen also will consider approving a $895,619 contract with J.G. Stewart Contractors Inc., was the lowest of three bidders, to repair and replace sidewalks.

©2016 The Pantagraph (Bloomington, Ill.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.