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Lexington, Ky. Has a Solution for Its Charter/Spectrum Problems: A New Fiber Competitor

An Indiana company will spend between $70 and $100 million building a fiber-to-the-home network delivering gigabit broadband speed in Lexington, Ky., partly in response to months of consumer dissatisfaction with Charter Communications’ Spectrum service.

MetroNet could make Lexington the largest gigabit city in the country, according to the city’s mayor Jim Gray.

“Santa Claus is coming to town,” Gray said.

Headquartered in Evansville, Ind., MetroNet provides internet, phone and television service across a 100% fiber optic network in 35 communities in the midwest —  mostly in Indiana and the western suburbs of Chicago. The company started operations in 2005, wiring the community of Greencastle, Ind. Since then, it has grown with the financial support of billionaire investors including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Nike’s Phil Knight. Oak Hill Equity Partners, a private equity firm, has a financial interest in MetroNet, along with investments in WOW!, Atlantic Broadband, Wave Broadband, and Cincinnati Bell.

MetroNet may have selected Lexington because it has a poorly received cable operator — Spectrum, and Windstream, a competitively inadequate phone company. Windstream does not provide the kind of service AT&T’s U-verse and AT&T Fiber offers in other Kentucky cities.

All of Lexington’s residents could get service from MetroNet is as little as three or four years, because the company has agreed to wire the entire urban service area, a departure from the “fiberhood” concept introduced by Google, wiring individual neighborhoods only after a sufficient number of customers pre-register for service and pay a deposit. The project is likely to win a quick approval from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council, allowing construction to begin in January. Because MetroNet sells television service, it will have to apply for and receive a franchise from the city.

“This means three things,” Gray said. “First, a fiber-optic network will provide gigabit speeds to homes and businesses. Second, it will bring a new cable provider to Lexington, which will bring competition to Spectrum and Windstream. MetroNet will have Kentucky basketball. Third, MetroNet has a great record of customer service.”

Prices and packaging:

  • 100/25Mbps $49.95
  • 200/75Mbps $59.95
  • 500/100Mbps $69.95
  • 1,000/250Mbps $89.95
  • Television packages range from $18-79 a month
  • Digital Phone service is $9.95 a month
  • Discounts of $10-20 a month are available for customers selecting a two year “price lock” agreement
  • a $9.95/mo “technology fee” also applies.

Although most welcome the competition, some noticed MetroNet does not intend to sell service at fire sale prices.

“I checked their rates in Lafayette, Ind. and they weren’t that cheap,” commented James Wood. “100Mbps internet + Standard tier TV+ phone was $146/mo for two years.”

MetroNet uniquely charges exactly the prices it pays for cable television networks, with no mark-up. (1:39)

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. Ian L says:

    MetroNet’s prices aren’t too bad, honestly. Sure, they’re not the $55 Google is charging for gigabit in San Antonio. But you can also get TV from them for less than the $90/mo Google now charges…and any high-priced TV blame falls squarely on the networks purveying said TV. Don’t like it? Buy over-the-top, which should run great on MetroNet.

  2. MarkLex says:

    I live in Lexington and I actually have had Windstream for years and it’s very consistent. But this is awesome. More competition!!

  3. BobInIllinois says:

    Thanks for the MetroNet financial info above. Detecting a private equity trend in these fiber overbuilders. Overbuilders seem to be interested in smaller metros that have been neglected by the big cablecos or big telcos. Then, they grow by expanding out regionally. Similar to the smaller i3 Broadband(in Peoria and Champaign-Urbana, IL), owned by private equity firms Countrywide Broadband and Seaport Capital.

    Just some slight additions: MetroNet up and operating in Central Illinois cities of Bloomington-Normal, IL home to State Farm, Illinois State University, and Illinois Wesleyan University. Gradually rolling out thru both cities, has a retail location. B-N MSA is 170K. Lexington MSA is 500K. MetroNet also in Lafayette, IN(home to Purdue). So, college towns seem to be attractive to MetroNet.

    MetroNet establishing presence in growing communities in southwest suburban Chicago areas western DuPage, Will, and Kane Counties. MetroNet going to cities there that have had major population growth in last 20 years. No retail location in those Burbs, but will be soon. MetroNet also in growing suburbs of Indianapolis, plus multiple scattered Indiana metros(including some smaller ones). Comcast Xfinity would seem to be the primary cable provider in most of these Northern/Central Illinois/Indiana cities, so MetroNet is certainly not afraid of them. Telco competition would be AT&T and Frontier, and some small telcos.

  4. BobInIllinois says:

    Correction to above:
    MetroNet so far has 3 SW Chicago suburb retail offices in Oswego, Plainfield, and Romeoville, IL.

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