Metronet, the broadband company that announced it would make ultra high-speed service of 1 gig available across Palm Coast available by 2023, has now sealed similar agreements with Bunnell and Flagler Beach.
Those agreements were secured with a lot less fanfare, if any, than the one with Palm Coast, which the city announced in mid-December with the kind of enthusiasm reserved for municipalities landing a World Cup game or an Olympic event. In Bunnell, Eddie Massengale, the company’s director of business development, appeared before the City Commission on Monday to summarize the agreement he’d already worked out with the city manager. He has not appeared before the Flagler Beach City Commission, though that agreement was worked out behind the scenes. (See: “Palm Coast, Gig City: MetroNet Will Wire All Residential Neighborhoods With Fiber Optic By 2023, Rocketing Speeds.”)
In all three cities, Metronet, an Indiana-based company, pledges to wire almost every street in the next two years, making high-speed internet available to homes and businesses with speeds of up to 1 gigabyte, at $89 a month to start. That will make the trio of Flagler municipalities so-called gig cities. Current providers offer mostly 100 to 400 mbps, with 1 gig available only in select areas. Metronet’s service, which can potentially go up to 10 gigs, is “symmetrical,” meaning that upload and download speeds will be the same. Typically, upload speeds are slower than download speeds. The symmetrical system is increasingly necessary as zoom has become ubiquitous, and requires that symmetry to work best.
Massengale contacted Flagler Beach City Manager William Whitson by email on Jan. 6, seeking an introductory meeting and making Metronet’s standard pitch, but one attractive to local governments for obvious reasons: “Metronet privately funds all construction and business operations; we would not require any
investment from the City.” He directed him to the company’s more extensive web-based pitch.
“I absolutely Would like to meet with you,” an enthusiastic Whitson replied within minutes. “I have been keeping tabs on your activities and would
Enjoy the opportunity to meet to see where we could cooperate and assist you in your endeavors.” (Palm Coast had invited Commission Chairman Eric Cooley to the Palm Coast announcement in December, but somehow the invitation bounced.)
Massengale and Whitson met on January 11. The company’s goal with the cities is not to secure money, but to ensure that the cities are willing to cooperate with the sort of bulk permitting Metronet thrives on (rather than permitting construction street by street). “Once we have our design completed I will bring in our construction team to meet with you and your team to discuss permitting and timelines,” Massengale wrote Whitson after the meeting.
Not usually the one who presents to local governments, a slightly nervous Massengale then made a brief public presentation to the Bunnell City Commission Monday evening that summarized the usual pitch. Th company, he said, serves some 300,000 customers so far, improving remote learning, telemedicine and zoom. The fiber service is not shared by customers. “We’re not replacing your internet provider. This is another choice for the residents of Bunnell,” he said. He suggested that while less than 20 percent of communities have fiber, home values could increase by 3 to 8 percent with fiber.
He did not cite a source, and the claim needs considerable qualification: The 3 percent claim has been making the rounds of fiber sales pitches since 2015, when when the Fiber to the Home Council Americas, an industry group that advocates on behalf of fiber vendors and providers, issued a white paper that found that fiber may increase a home value by up to 3.0 percent. The study was not peer-reviewed, and was based on extrapolated numbers. As a Fiber Broadband Association release summarizing it described the method, “Using the National Broadband Map and a nationwide sample of real estate prices from 2011 to 2013, the study’s authors investigated the relationship between fiber-delivered Internet services and housing prices. The boost to the value of a typical home — $5,437 — is roughly equivalent to adding a fireplace, half of a bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool to the home.”
Nevertheless, a link between better values and better internet appears to be as common now as a link between better fire services and slightly lower home insurance rates.
Metronet intends to have a local store serving alm Coast, Bunnell and Flagler Beach. It will not require contracts, and it will make less-than-gigabyte service available. The company will send out letters to residents who will be in the vicinity of construction, explaining what’s ahead, what a right-of-way is , when construction will start, and what number they may call if they have issues with construction. Seven days before construction, more signs will go up, including notices on mailboxes. “As we build it, we restore it,” Massengale said of construction, which is expected to start in spring. Expect to see Metronet trucks and employees, or contractors working with Metronet, by then.
Home owners associations are not part of the municipal approach: the company will meet with HOAs individually to establish the same process. Unincorporated Flagler County is not yet on Metronet’s map.
Bunnell city commissioners had no questions. But City Manager Alvin Jackson asked Massengale a question that often follows him wherever he makes presentations: the service is fine so far as it goes, but it may not be affordable to most. “That’s a concern, not having access to fiber” in low-income communities, Jackson said. Massengale said the service will be provided universally, to anyone that wants the service. He did not address how customers who cannot afford the service may access it. But there are government programs available that offer subsidies of up to $30 to qualifying low-in come residents.
JOSEPH HEMPFLING says
I am sorry but something seems “Fishy” to me with the way this proposal is being presented as
A sure dunk without public hearings and doing a little more research on what exactly is
Being proposed. So my suggestion is; back to the drawing boards boys.
what good is it at those prices, just like Hughes Satalite advertises high speed and reliability but turns out to be actually the slowest speed and latency available while kids playing games could not even tolerate it
Disappointed yet again says
Bunnell, Palm Coast and Flagler Beach already have access to high speed internet. We Flagler County unincorporated people are the ones who need this, yet again we are left out.
Disappointed yet again says
Have you checked out the price for Starlink? I have. $900 just for the equipment and initial set up and that’s not including the exorbitant monthy fee.
After you figure out a way to work through your anger and vitriol, you’ll find that the price is actually $500 for the equipment and $99/month. You’ll also find that’s not far off of what you’ll pay for comparable setup and monthly from HughesNet, which as you know already, sucks.
So, if you live in an area (BY YOUR OWN CHOOSING) that is not serviced by a major telco or cable company, or doesn’t have a 5G option from any major wireless company, you have the option of this new Starlink. A constellation of low earth orbit satellites that can deliver up to half a gigabit of internet speeds. No contracts. If you move, pick it up and move it with you. Do that with a MetroNet or Spectrum circuit!
You have CHOSEN to live rurally, so good for you. Stretch your legs. Let the dawgs run free. Was the electricity run into your home free? Was the water and sewer free? No, of course they weren’t! A connection to the rest of the world can be made at a fraction of the costs of the other utilities that were put into your home. Why in the world is that a problem? Get through the hate sir/ma’am. You are blessed. We all are here in America with options available to us that simply aren’t in many parts of the rest of the world. Sometimes we can get so caught up in our own sense of entitlement that we lose touch with reality.
Disappointed yet again says
Anger and vitriol? Please. Apparently anyone who disagrees with you or makes a comment you don’t like is going to be insulted and berated. You are one of those people who just likes to fight and be angry all the time. Yes, I committed the cardinal sin of living in a rural area, which, for some reason seems to inflame your hatred and rhetoric. Are you a stock owner in Metronet, mayhaps? Tone it down pal.
As for your ranting about electricity and sewage, where did THAT come from? No, I don’t let my “dawgs” run free and in fact, don’t have dogs. Not everyone who chooses to live in the country is an uneducated buffoon. And, please, look further into the Starlink thing and you will see the cost is not a “mere” $500 for startup. Everything is extra. As for feeling entitled? What has that to do with anything – listening to Sean Hannity and his ilk? You need to take a few deep breaths and calm down. We poor, misguided, rural folk are just as entitled to our opinions as you oh so savvy and sophisticated city people.
Looks as if I was spot on in my accessment.
$89 a month is not cheap and why would most need 1gig speed? I was hoping it would be cheaper than the $75 a. On the for 200 speed. I was wrong. I loathe Spectrum.
$89 would be double what I pay to AT&T, I’ll wait.
There are munipalities, cities and counties all over the United States that would hand over decades of tax and other incentives to get something like this. It’s a real good idea to just say ‘Okay’ and shut the hell up. For those who whine about the price or claim how you don’t need it, you simply have no clue what you’re talking about. I suspect you’re the ones with landlines still in your houses too.
Metronet is literally investing tens of millions in our community with a long long road for recovery, if ever. It’s probably more for the future market value for a SPAC or an aquisition by one of the majors such as Charter, Comcast, whomever. Flagler is ’bout to explode like no one’s ever seen, and this infrastructure deal will be a major contributor to that. The original vision of 400k people by the founders will surely come to light by 2040. Watch my words.
Understand what is happening…. There are millenials and gen y’ers all across the country looking for a place to hang their hats after acquiring their newfound online degrees. They’ll be working from home or co-work environments. The beach to the east. Springs to the west. Major metros and airports 45 minutes away. Mickey and company. World’s most famous beach 30 minutes up the road. Not on fire all the damn time. No tornadoes all the damn time. No black ice on the damn streets. And now gig+ internet everywhere. Oh they’re coming. They’ll be coming in droves. And they’ll be riding up your Oldsmobuick driving asses in their EVs flashing their transitional diodes for you to hang up your Jitterbug and get out of the left lane and to turn your perpetual blinker off!
I think your assessment is right on the money. We are already on the forefront of becoming one of the primary centers of medical education in the state with the MedNEX project with the city, a new hospital under construction on Palm Coast Pkwy., another hospital coming on U.S. 1, and large medical business facility construction started at the corner of Belle Terre and Matanzas Woods Pkwy. The other day I read about the latest medical trend that is spreading nationally where people are being “hospitalized at home” with medical staff bringing in nurses, doctors, CT scan equipment and other medical equipment that may need a higher level of communications ability right into patients’ homes so hospitals can keep the hospital beds free for those more severe cases. Anyone who would deny the advantage of having high tech infrastructure being put in place to handle the future technology and communications needs we will face in our communities isn’t paying attention.
Here’s something I found interesting this morning, and it may interest others as well so I’m sharing it here. This morning a Spectrum service repair truck was parked on the street in front of my house while the employee was working at the cable box to complete a repair order for one of my neighbors the Spectrum guy said. I was explaining to him an ongoing problem with noise in my home’s phone line, thinking that may be why he was here. During the conversation, he brought up the info about Metronet putting in the infrastructure and ramping up their business locally, which will be in direct competition with Spectrum, AT&T, etc. He told me that his bosses at Spectrum are concerned enough with this new company coming into town that Spectrum will soon be digging up the existing cable that is in my neighborhood and others and upgrading their cables. I was excited and asked if they will be installing fiber optic cables, and he said no, just upgraded cable but depending on what Metronet brings in as far as their infrastructure, Spectrum might be looking at expanding their fiber optic cable to our area as well. They are obviously watching what Metronet is doing, and we all know how competition goes… whatever one company does to improve/add, others will need to do the same or better to keep up and maintain their customer base too. So here’s just one more example of how positive it is for Palm Coast that Metronet sees the business potential and is working to install the technology infrastructure in our area. It is going to be a huge asset for Palm Coast and the surrounding business and residential communities.