Orange Beach takes first steps toward fiber internet

By Crystal Cole/Islander Editor
Posted 9/5/17

The City of Orange Beach adopted a resolution authorizing a fiber optic broadband project in partnership with CenturyLink at a special called meeting recently.

Under the development agreement, …

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Orange Beach takes first steps toward fiber internet

Posted

The City of Orange Beach adopted a resolution authorizing a fiber optic broadband project in partnership with CenturyLink at a special called meeting recently.

Under the development agreement, CenturyLink proposes to construct, install and place fiber

optic facilities within the city. This will make available to owners and occupants of residential units

within the city the option of symmetrical 100 Megabyte (MB) or 1 Gigabit (GIG) high speed

internet services on a “fiber to the home” basis.

Work would begin after a minimum threshold of 1,000 residents applied with a $25 deposit due with the application. CenturyLink would offer fiber after 33 percent of a given zone opted in to the service.

The city would chip in $1 million with CenturyLink’s infrastructure investment in the city estimated at $22-24 million. The city would eventually get its money back based on annual revenue from each customer who takes service

Councilman Jerry Johnson said the city had been working on bringing better broadband to residents for years.

“We went on a journey to find someone who would be a good fit,” Johnson said. “A good fit would be someone willing to bring fiber to the city and to the citizens. There were a lot of people who wanted to do it, but they didn’t want to build it. They said the city needs to do that, but I said that’s not a business the city needs to be in.”

Johnson, who chairs the Telecommunications and Technology Committee, said it was a struggle to find a provider willing to come in to a smaller city with so few full-time residents.

“The issue with Orange Beach is we’re only 6,000 full-time residents,” Johnson said. “There’s no company out there of any size that’s going to come into Orange Beach and invest $24 million for 6,000 accounts. Google told me ‘we don’t go below the size of Kansas City.’”

CenturyLink will hold four customer forums in September at the Orange Beach Community Center in an effort to educate the public on its offerings, answer any questions or concerns and sign up potential customers.

The service will cost $60 a month for 100 megabytes per second service and $80 for one gigabyte per second.

“The only way this is going to work is if it is a partnership between the public and the private,” Johnson said. “The city is in a great position right now in the partnership. This will bring a product like you’ve never seen before.”