Lexington, Kentucky, citizens stopped getting mad at Charter Communications and decided to get a fiber-to-the-home network to compete with the cable company.
The city made a deal with Indiana’s MetroNet to start building in January a FTTH network that will cost somewhere between $70 million and $100 million, and somehow be privately funded.
“Just in time for Christmas, Santa Claus is coming to town,” said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, announcing the project at a news conference covered by local media earlier this week.
MetroNet has reportedly promised to cover the Lexington’s entire urban region with 1-gig FTTH services over the next three to four years. The average internet speed in the area is only around 16 Mbps right now, according to a recent study.
Local residents have bristled at Charter, which took over incumbent cable franchise holder Time Warner Cable last year.
Amid Charter’s conversion of acquired TWC systems in the region to its Spectrum brand, the cable company has come under fire from local customers, lawmakers and newspaper writers for everything from TV services pricing to call-center beefs.
"We serve all of Lexington today with the fastest starting speeds (60 Mbps), with no modem fees, data caps or contracts. And Spectrum already offers commercial clients customized solutions with speeds up to multiple gigabits," Charter spokesman Rich Ruggiero said in an email to FierceCable this morning.
Last month, the city council in Lexington gave Charter 30 days to address a number of service issues or the cable operator would face fines. However, since that mid-October announcement, the city seems to have rethought how it will go about dealing with the No. 2 U.S. cable company.
MetroNet, which is expanding fast under an unnamed private equity backer, must still get a sign-off from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council. The company needs to bid on a 10-year cable franchise agreement with the city before starting.
But the political wind seems to be blowing MetroNet’s way.
"The people of Lexington have been crying out for a new competitor to bring improved television, faster internet speeds, and caring customer service," Gray added. "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.”