Metronet is an Indiana-based broadband company that partnered with Palm Coast government in December 2021 on a pledge to wire the city’s 555 miles of streets with fiberoptic cables, at no cost to the city. The city’s role is to ease permitting as Metronet crews dig up rights of way.
On Monday, Bill Gilliam, Metronet’s general manager in Florida, was in Palm Coast to announce that the ultra-high-speed service is now available in four neighborhoods: Pine Lakes, Matanzas Woods, Palm Harbor and Indian Trails. The company put down 400,000 feet of fiber and is adding 20,000 to 25,000 feet per week.
“We hope to be done here in about two years, the whole community built out,” Gilliam said, “and then we go into what we call expansion phase and that continues forever.” (The company had hoped to have the city wired by 2023 wen it first announced its arrival.)
The company got a welcoming reception from the Bunnell City Commission and the Flagler Beach City Commission last year, and said it would expand there, too. But its next expansion after Palm Coast is Ormond Beach, Gilliam said. Flagler Beach and Bunnell will get their turn, but there’s no date yet.
Gilliam made the announcement at the foot of the huge cell tower on U.S. 1, next to the Florida Forest Service’s office, where a few Metronet pick-up trucks, enormous spools of fiber and protective tubes, hard-hatted and suited personnel, and a few others had gathered under a torrid sun for the occasion. The location was picked for a couple of reasons: a distance north, crews were putting down fiber even then. The site also happens to be one of those with what looks to a passer-by like any other ordinary metal-gray telecommunication cabinet on a concrete pad, but to Metronet, is one of a handful of key nodes, or switching stations, that receives and distributes signals.
The two-sided cabinet contains equipment worth enormous sums, with one side receiving signal and the other sending it out. “So all racks will go in here,” Sal Oddo, Metronet’s field operations manager for Florida, said, showing the gaping space in the cabinet that will soon fill with racks, with a separate rack for customers’ network cards on the other. “We’ll have jumpers from there to here, and every customer that’s built in this area will be allocated a spot on a shelf.”
Metronet provides equal upload and download speeds of up to 2 gigabytes (what it calls symmetrical speeds), and up to 10 gigs for businesses, compared to the more common 100 to 400 megabytes current today, with some providers offering 1 gigabyte in select areas. Think of the difference between the lower and greater speeds as between a garden hose and a fire hose, with the water representing the volume and speed that can be delivered to your device. In the gigabyte range, it’s so much that “for the first time we’re able to offer a lot more speed sometimes then the customer really needs,” Gilliam said.
Palm Coast Mayor David Alfin had been at the launch 16 months ago, and was part of the gathering near the switching station on Monday. He said Palm Coast is on its way to becoming only the second “Gig City” in the state, after Tallahassee–meaning that every street will be wired and within reach of gig-caliber internet service.
“It gives me the ability when I’m talking to site selectors, future businesses, especially in the healthcare services or medical technology field,” to offer that service citywide, Alfin said. “Pharmaceutical companies, medical research companies, medical technology companies need this gig speed. They can’t even look at us without it. So we will be the fastest in the area. That gives us a leg up in attracting these people, which again begins to balance our demographic and our tax base simultaneously here in the city of Palm Coast. So there’s a value here to our existing residents, but especially to our future residents.”
Alfin spoke of his own experience, transitioning from slide rules to the internet. But the new generation, he said, grew up only in the era of the internet, not knowing anything else. “So we’re also reaching out to the next generation for the future of Palm Coast as well, which I think is really important,” the mayor said.
He said there’s been few complaints from residents as Metronet has dug up swales for its work, occasionally severing utility lines. “In this kind of an exercise, you’re invariably going to run into something. Yeah, cut something,” Alfin said. “But our number of complaints is minimal. Better than that: I’ve talked to the boots on the ground and congratulated these folks over here. The response to a customer ticket on a complaint has been extraordinarily fast. The supervisors shows up, they get it resolved. Sometimes they get it resolved so fast, the customer calls City Hall to cancel the ticket because it’s already been taken care of.”
Palm Coast government a decade and a half ago was big into its own broadband system, what it called Palm Coast Fibernet. It still runs the system, and at one point only a few years ago one of its council members saw it as a bounty of revenue. It hasn’t panned out that way. Metronet now risks making it redundant. “Maybe in the long term it becomes unimportant,” Alfin said. “Certainly with a speed advantage you could make that case, but I’m not willing to give up that last line of security just yet.”
But Alfin conceded that Fibernet’s original vision is defunct: “The original model included a component which would be a a new revenue stream for the city, which would be ideal, but no longer realistic,” he said, “and quite frankly, the city could never keep up with technology as fast as we’ve talked about before. The city doesn’t have the wherewithal or the professional experience to be competitive with companies that are dedicated full time to this kind of exercise.”
I was one of the early batch of residents who contacted Metronet and signed up many months ago. It has been a longer wait than expected, and they have recently completed digging and installing fiber-optic cables throughout our neighborhood so I’m hopeful that we can get connected and turned on to the ultra-high-speed internet service very soon.
Bottom line it for me, what does it cost? Better be lower than Spectrum or AT&T or it will be another dead horse just like the cities lame intent.
The details are in the fine print. A $12 per month Tech Fee?
“The advertised price does not include applicable taxes and fees (including installation fees and $12 per month Tech Assure fee)”
That sounds like the airlines baggage fees. Or a fee on our FPL bill that the town council may have on the horizon.
Finished in 2 years? The city is growing very fast.
Cannot wait to tell Spectrum what they can do with their service, but not so fast. A spot check of several addresses (including my own) showed that we are not yet eligible for service. The website says “We’re finalizing plans to bring our 100% fiber optic network to your neighborhood. The tentative timeline for release of service to your area is within the next three months.” So here I sit, all dressed up and no where to go. Come on guys, do your magic, PLEASE. . . .
How does this fit in with Starlink’s network attempt, and what does each account (home) cost
Starlink is a satellite internet service operated by SpaceX, not an underground cable highspeed fiber-optic system. Pricing is on MetroNet’s web site. I have in in the C section, switched over from AT&T and love it!
I realize it’s a satellite and not underground unless you’re making a broad clarification for the minions, the question was for positioning of the competition, and what was the price.
Starlink is to bring internet service to areas not able to get service, and yet those areas also can’t afford the service once it’s available (valleys and mountains)bottom line would be, does it beat the high cost of cable&satelite) in this area
Metro Messed my yard up! says
I call BS on David Alfins enthusiastic take on the damage done by the metro net digging crews. Not advance warning I come home from work and the whole front yard dug up, They put it all back together but a week later dug it all up again and left the sod out to dry out several more days and put it back together again. Now I have a brown stripe across the yard. I created a ticket 3 weeks ago still no response . Metronet calls but its just their sales team trying to sell me service Im like Sure I’ll switch, just as soon as you idiots get out here and re-sod my yard!! Spectrum is still a bit cheaper Ive found for basic high speed internet service
Is it really your yard or is it the city owned property abutting the street. If it is your you can and should complain. If it belongs to ‘we the people’, then please contact the city to advise them of the damage to public property.
Metronet welcomed…much faster than Spectrum? realistically told by neighbor that connected to it ,NO she can’t tell the difference but said less disconnects also less expensive, $55 Metronet versus Spectrum over $90. Now the city Fibernet like Mayor Alfin made the comment not bringing the income so much published an expected by its mastermind councilman Nick Klufas 4 years ago , with full support from Holland, wasting our hard earned dollars on it when he was told, city could never compete with the many millionaire big boys of the industry (AT&T, Verizon, Tmobile, Spectrum and now Metronet) he thumbed his nose to us and proceeded…with other peoples monies. Just like a decade before Jon Netts wasted our hard earned taxes in the projected ocean front desalination plant never materialized or the materialized millionaire splash pad, wared to become a failure by councilman then Jack Howell but approved tom proceed and fail!…because we could not afford the 750 millions plus starting cost! Or the materialized millionaire splash pad, warned to become a failure by councilman then Jack Howell but approved to proceed anyway and failed! These elected officials will take the city taxpayers to the cleaners with their millionaire cost ignorant visions! Mr. Klufas you still voting against the residents in your lame duck term and now asking the local GOP for support to run for commissioner to what they said NO…enough is enough Nick! There will be only bad legacy in your overvoted long terms by your Grand Heaven residents neighbors! Let go Nick and take your two buddies in the council along! Kudos to brave councilwoman Pointieri we need more like you in the city council in 2024! You should not be the only vote trying to protect Palmcoasters! Otherwise we are heading to become financially bankrupted Compton CA.
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN says
Klufas will never get those votes to be on the FCBOCC, he has never voted once against any single irresponsible development another bought and sold crony. he does not have my vote for sure.
Once this is ultra high speed internet is up and running, how much will this cost residents? Also the speeds are good now but how will scaling up for higher speeds happen? Other than these questions I see this as promising. Hopefully it will help with the dead zones around palm coast parkway.
Jeffrey Buck says
I wouldn’t do business with this company no matter how good or how cheap. The clowns they hired (non-english speaking) blew through our neighborhood, dug up our lawns, (not always on the right of way) planted the wrong sod (full of concrete chunks) cut the AT&T lines, and just kept right on moving. There was no contact about work to be done or how it would proceed and absolutely no follow up to check for any problems. No way to do business.
The same non-English speaking cable crews were burying the fiber-optic cables in my neighborhood as well as my father in-law’s neighborhood. Well before they started digging, other Metronet contracted employees came through and planted little flags in the swales ALL OVER these neighborhoods to alert homeowners of the digging project that was coming, then others came through with sensor equipment and spray painted in the swales where utility lines were located way before the digging crews arrived. I stood outside and watched the very hard and laborious non-English speaking diggers who were having quite a bit of difficulty burying the lines due to the high water table in the F-Section where I live, but those workers were very respectful and dig a great job putting down plastic sheeting before digging up the grass, then carefully replacing the grass and making sure it looked just like it did before they started digging. I don’t know if your complaint is valid or not, but I cannot imagine the crews working in my neighborhood doing such a good job, under constant supervision, and leaving absolutely no sign that they were even here afterward, in contrast with what you are saying happened in your neighborhood… sounds very suspicious to me! And I will tell you one more thing… where they were digging in our street’s swale, my next door neighbor had their mailbox and post dug up in order to bury the fiber-optic line, and a few days later here comes a Metronet truck and the driver got out and put in a brand new mailbox and post for the neighbor. I’d say the job that I witnessed first hand from the Metronet crews was OUTSTANDING!
as you can imagine there would always be that person showing prejudice, Id like to see him out there in the high temps of a day digging trenches in a floppy hat and long sleeves. (he could never do it)
it’s like the guy that said he couldn’t buy groceries from Aldis when they opened up because it was German food, because of what de-declared what they did in the war, does he have trouble with Sushi too?
theyre out there!
Frustrated with no internet says
Alway that person looking for prejudice that is not there. The statement is simply stating that no one on the job site or in charge could be communicated with in order to simply state that a problem had been created that needed to be fixed. The pot does not always have to be stirred sir!
I thought the workers were very nice. My boyfriend was fresh out of surgery and using a walker and they came to help because they saw me struggling. Not everyone that is foreign is scary. They blew through because they knew what they were doing imo. The speed is very noticeable to video gamers. I can’t tell but haven’t had any issues and not sure if they are responsible but our cameras are so clear compared to spectrum, it’s like watching tv!!
The Sour Kraut says
Not including taxes and fees.
From their website.
@ The Sour Kraut
Yeah, about those prices – I followed up and checked the metronet.com website. They ARE offering a special – 1st yr @ reduced price, then 2nd year at slightly less reduced price. BUT … in addition to the standard ‘Applicable Fees and Taxes’ disclaimer, They also add the following ….
“The advertised price does not include applicable taxes and fees (including installation fees and $12 per month Tech Assure fee).”
$12.00 a month fee for “Tech Assure fee”?? So , they are line-iteming out what SHOULD be a cost of doing business as a monthly charge? Sub-Contracting tech support maybe?
About the only advantage to MetroNet I see is the parallel up and down speeds, rather than a slower upload speed vs. faster download speed I get from Spectrum.
The voice of reason says
SR100/95 area is a civic embarrassment when it comes to internet. Huge, strategic area that is a dead zone. Nothing like living in bumpkinville.
Have to say Alfin is flat out lying about the complaints and the resolutions of the complaints. I talked to a construction supervisor for Metronet who told me that it’s often easier to just cut what’s in the ground and have others fix it than to dig elsewhere. Water lines, AT&T fiber optic, Spectrum lines, even lines to pep tanks! 4 days with no internet because they cut a main AT&T line and didn’t bother to report it cost me money because we work from home. The “no speak English “ metronet contractor sure had no problem flipping me the bird and saying [email protected]&$ you when I left the house with my granddaughter because I reported his crew.
Jean Sanderson says
Thanks Klufas… for all the increased utility fees folks will be paying for this “free” internet. They’re leaving a lot of chopped-up roads behind.
I’ve observed enough, I’ve said enough… and I’ve had enough.
what “free” internet are you talking about
Our city officials all seem to embrace various ways to “steal” taxpayers money for projects that in the end do no benefit Palm Coast residents. Fibernet could have been a good project that maybe could have generated some revenue for the city, but was no genius with vision on how to make it grow and be profitable. Meanwhile since conception Palm Coast vision for growth was know to be 250K+ and all the mayors including current mayor have ignored the infrastructure. Residents are to suffer, for there is absolute no vision in any city department on how to fix it. The city has spent money on consultants and still a crumbling infrastructure. My guess is more consultants at $100K+++ and 10 yrs from now the infrastructure will still fail to meet the expected growth. Why? Too many projects to attract more people that a mayor can point to as “THEIR LEGACY”. Building legacy require projects that the city will fail to ask because they don’t care how they spent taxpayer’s money, WHAT PERCENTAGE OF PALM COASTS RESIDENTS WILL ACTUALLY USE THIS? It is not about protecting residents investment in Palm Coast, how can my legacy be expressed with their mone!