To Stay Competitive, Kentucky Utility Doubles Internet Speed

A newly approved rate schedule is doubling commercial Internet service speeds for Owensboro Municipal Utilities customers at no costs. The decision was made to stay competitive with other local ISPs.

by Austin Ramsey, Messenger-Inquirer / February 21, 2019
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(TNS) — The City Utility Commission on Wednesday approved a new Owensboro Municipal Utilities commercial Internet rate schedule for customers that doubles all existing and future bandwidth speeds at no additional costs to its customers.

In order to stay competitive in a commercial Internet market in near-constant flux, the utility board doubled all available speeds on the one-to-five-year contract rate schedule without changing the prices for those services. Just last month, OMU approved of its fastest commercial broadband Internet service package ever, a synchronized 500 megatbit-per-second upload and download speed rate for a large, undisclosed industry in the community.

OMU did not alert its customers to the change. Rather, faster speeds were expected to go into effect later Wednesday afternoon as a "pleasant surprise," according to Telecommunications Superintendent Chris Poynter.

"What we have found is that our current customers really just need more speed, and we feel like this is a way to deliver more value for the current services that they already subscribe to us for," he said. "These are the types of positive surprises we would like to give our customers, instead of the reverse of changing rates and increasing costs. We feel like one of our core competencies is to continue to deliver more value for what you subscribing for."

Under the old rate schedule, the smallest commercial Internet service available was a 10x10 megabit-per-second package that cost $154 a month for one year's worth of service, scaling down in price to $126 a month for five years' worth of service. The new rate schedule doubles that speed for the same prices, making the 20x20 megabit-per-second speed the smallest package available and a 500x500 speed the largest.

Officials said there is no expectation that the shift in commercial speeds could affect OMU's overall broadband Internet capacity. Currently, OMU peaks at just under 10 percent of its total system capacity, meaning there's a lot of room for growth, Poynter said.

Notably, however, utility commissioners voted on what was presented as a "commercial/enterprise-level" rate schedule, and Poynter suggested that those two terms may be distinguished in the near future. The commission has been discussing for months now what changes could be made to OMU's commercial Internet packages in order to remain competitive among small business-level customers.

"There's a segment of the business market that we're not adequately serving right now," Poynter said. "These (changes made Wednesday) are for enterprise-level business services. What you're going to see more of is terms like "enterprise-level" versus, potentially, other segments of a commercial market, because all we have available right now is enterprise-level commercial services. We do a really good job of that targeted toward enterprise-level institutions, but we recognize there's a segment of the commercial market we're not currently serving."

Although OMU is broadening its fiber-to-the-home initiative, Wednesday's rate adjustments do not pertain to residential customers.

©2019 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.