Louisville is set to award franchise agreements to three private companies looking to bring ultra high-speed Internet service to the city.
Companies have submitted proposals to install infrastructure that would support gigabit bandwidth fiber. The service would provide access to internet speeds up to 100 times faster than what is currently being offered, according to Ted Smith, the director of the city’s Office for Economic Growth and Innovation.
Smith said having more internet providers will benefit residents and businesses in the area.
“At the end of the day, more is more,” he said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the providers to be relevant to these customer dynamics.”
He said the pressure of adding gigabit bandwidth in Louisville will prompt the current Internet service providers, Time-Warner and AT&T, to either lower prices or boost their infrastructure to support the higher speed internet capability.
“They’re still working off of their old infrastructure,” which is limited in its capability to bring the highest speed service to residents, Smith said.
He said Time Warner has had the opportunity to make the investment to upgrade their services to gigabit speeds, but have opted not to.
“Every market that has ultra high speed internet has customers that love it. It’s not like this was a big experiment,” Smith said.
Here are the three companies in line to get the bids, plus where they are based and what they will be working on:
- BGN Networks LLC – Louisville. Will work to install a small scale residential service in downtown Louisville.
- SiFi Networks Louisville, L.L.C.—London, England. Will work to install a community wide residential service.
- Fiber Technologies Networks, L.L.C.—Rochester, N.Y. Will work to install service to some commercial areas.
The new providers will be installing new infrastructure, both above and below ground, and also working off existing infrastructure provided by current service providers.
Smith said SiFi Networks will be creating an open-access network, meaning “anyone can ride on top of the infrastructure.”
“It is a pretty interesting approach,” Smith said. “It encourages competition.”
Installing the new fiber lines comes with very high costs, Smith said. The total cost of wiring the Louisville area would add up to “several hundreds of millions of dollars,” he added.
He said some specifics must still be evaluated for plans to begin wiring properties, such as costs and the amount of potential subscribers.
“It’s a good deal right now on paper, we just have to keep our fingers crossed and keep the good energy flowing,” he said.