ST. CHARLES – Fiber optic service-provider MetroNet is expanding into St. Charles.
The Indiana-based outfit will give residents and businesses another choice for internet, television and landline telephone service.
The company is promoting itself as offering dedicated fiber optic cable lines, gigabit speed internet, no contracts for residential customers and competitive pricing.
“We’re looking forward to bringing competition to St. Charles,” MetroNet spokesman Kathy Scheller said.
With installation of the fiber optic cables already underway, service is expected to be available to some customers as early as this summer, Scheller said, and the entire St. Charles system is expected to be complete in a couple of years.
Customers will have a direct fiber connection to the service network, Scheller said, providing fast internet speeds and downloads.
For businesses and people who work from home, the internet speeds will be “a game-changer,” Scheller said.
The franchise agreement with MetroNet was approved by the St. Charles City Council last year.
Under the agreement, MetroNet will attach its fiber optic cables to utility poles in some neighborhoods, and install them underground in those areas where the power lines are buried.
Right now, installation work has been taking place primarily on the city’s far southeast side.
In areas where the fiber optic cables are installed underground, directional boring is being used, minimizing the need for excavation.
After a receiving pit is dug in the public right-of-way, crews use equipment to bore horizontally along the utility line for up to 500 feet before digging another pit.
St. Charles Public Works Director Peter Suhr said the installation has been proceeding relatively smoothly.
“We have not had a lot of calls or complaints,” Suhr said.
St. Charles Building and Code Enforcement Manager Bob Vann agreed.
“We have not had as many complaints as I anticipated,” Vann said.
Scheller said that as work gets underway in specific neighborhoods, MetroNet is alerting residents with letters, post cards, signs and website announcements.
Vann said the advance notifications have helped.
“They [MetroNet] are very proactive,” Vann said.
Under the franchise agreement, the city will collect a fee equal to 5 percent of MetroNet’s gross revenues, according to St. Charles Finance Director Chris Minick.
The city has the same deal with cable service-provider Comcast, Minick said, producing about $450,000 a year in revenue for St. Charles.
The agreement with MetroNet is anticipated to be essentially revenue-neutral for the city, Minick said, with some customers simply switching service-providers.
MetroNet has been making a major push into the Fox River Valley.
It has already completed installation of systems in Oswego and Montgomery. Work is underway in North Aurora, Batavia, Geneva and South Elgin, in addition to St. Charles.