MetroNet representative Kathy Scheller spoke at a Dec. 5 Geneva City Council meeting about the company's plan to expand into Geneva.
MetroNet started in 2004 in Evansville, Ind., where it is still based, she said. The privately-held company expanded into Illinois and now serves Bloomington-Normal, Boulder Hill, Montgomery, Oswego, Plainfield and Romeoville, Scheller said.
The company offers fiber optic broadband service to 150,00 homes and businesses with more than 53,000 customers, Scheller said.
“The difference between us and some other provider is that we provide a direct fiber connection to every home, every business in the community,” Scheller said. “The reason we are approaching Geneva, to come in and offer this type of competition in your area, is that we are also talking to North Aurora, Batavia and St. Charles. What we do when we deploy fiber is, we go to contiguous communities to continue to outlay our fiber.”
Scheller said MetroNet also sets up physical stores or kiosks which allows potential customers to try out the products and services.
“This is the type of bandwidth that is going to set communities apart nationally,” Scheller said. “Less than 10 percent of all communities in the United States have the accessibility to this type of infrastructure. … It’s a game changer … for your residents, because they can compete globally more now than ever, and be ahead of those who do not have that infrastructure. It’s the best technology available.”
Scheller said the company would hire people from the communities it serves to install the fiber as well as have a local retail presence.
The company uses easements to expand its fiber network, and if a business or homeowner does not want the service, Scheller said it just passes by, on to the ones that do.
“If there is enough of a group of residents from that particular area that wants this infrastructure, we’ll work with them to get in,” Scheller said. “It does depend upon the density and how contiguous the neighborhoods are.”
Mayor Kevin Burns said some internet and cable competitors have “admitted to cherry-picking certain neighborhoods.”
“When you describe building out a community, you are building out all 8.5 square miles of that we call Geneva,” Burns said. “It’s not just certain neighborhoods that would be ‘attractive,’ in terms of purchasing. It would be all communities, irrespective of whether they purchase.”
Scheller said the company’s network designers design a community.
“We do not cherry-pick,” Scheller said. “If there is an area we can’t get to … we will work with administration on trying to get to that area.”
Burns said the city would offer a template franchise agreement as a starting point.
“If all goes swimmingly, and we reach an agreement and you build out the community – the risk is all yours,” Burns said. “You’ll dig, you’ll build, you’ll bury, you’ll run. And if Geneva citizens say, ‘Hey, it’s been a thrill, but no thank you.’ That risk is on your shoulders.”
“Correct,” Scheller said.
More information about the company can be found by visiting www.metronetinc.com.