Internet pilot program launched
Since the beginning of construction last fall, Owensboro Municipal Utility’s pilot “Fiber to the Home” project to deliver high-speed fiber-optic Internet service to residential customers has entered the installation phase, according to Chris Poynter, superintendent of OMU’s telecommunications division.
Poynter told the OMU board on Thursday that there are now 15 active customers receiving Internet in the pilot area of the Town and Country neighborhood off Tamarack Road near OMU’s Customer Service Center. The subdivision has more than 570 households and a population of almost 1,500 people living in single-family and multifamily homes and apartments.
About eight installations are being done every week, Poynter said, and nearly 80 customers have signed up for the service. That is ahead of schedule, he said.
“So far, the feedback has been positive,” Poynter said. “They are very happy with their speeds and the installation process.”
The build-out of the pilot project infrastructure is complete, Poynter said. The current phase is hooking up individual homes. The utility is seeking more sign-ups, with a goal of at least 20 percent saturation, which OMU said it expects to exceed.
The projected was budgeted to cost $337,900. The forecast budget is now $397,300, according to Poynter’s presentation, with the cost overrun necessary to ensure the best quality. Through December, $265,228 had been spent on the project.
“We don’t want to scrimp along in our first foray into fibernet,” said OMU General Manager Terry Naulty. “We want to do it right.”
OMU, which had been out of the home Internet delivery business for more than eight years, announced almost a year ago that it intended to get back in that business with a pilot program. Instead of providing wireless Internet to residential customers as it did in the 2000s, OMU set out to deliver high-speed Internet to homes by expanding its existing fiber-optic telecommunications network.
OMU is counting on competitive prices and faster speeds to make its home Internet project succeed.
Poynter told the board a year ago that the prices OMU is charging would be highly competitive with other providers of home Internet. For the pilot program, the monthly price for up to 50 megabits per second is $44.99. He said that price is only $5 more per month that what competitors charge for 20 megabits per second. For 100 megabits per second, the OMU price will be $69.99 a month, and for 1 gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second, the price is $99.99 a month. A one-time installation fee of $49.99 is charged, and customers must enter into a one-year contract.
Town and Country residents may sign up for Internet service by calling OMU at 270-926-3200 and speaking to a customer service representative.
By Steve Vied