FastNet Wireless is looking to expand services in Caldwell and Lyon counties with miles of new wire.
Mike Calvin, co-owner of the Internet provider, addressed the Lyon County Fiscal Court during its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday. Calvin said the company has been identifying areas in each county where high speed Internet could expand to new residences by laying fiber optic cable necessary to provide ‘last mile’ service.
Lyon County Judge Executive Wade White said the project is a continuation of existing services that will be beneficial to residents.
“FastNet came here several years ago and started doing what they could to get as many people through the air [with] Internet,” White said. “We’re excited about this. It’s a good start to something that could benefit Eddyville and Kuttawa. It needs to be in the cities. Businesses there need it, and so do the people there.”
White advocated for the court to allow FastNet to run cable along county right-of-ways.
The proposed project would run fiber optic cable through areas of the county which would service both new and existing accounts.
County Attorney Lee Wilson said local leaders are looking to similar ordinances enacted in other counties to determine how to assist the private entity with providing the service.
“We’re talking to [the Kentucky Association of Counties] and some other folks, and other counties that have done the same thing,” Wilson said.
Calvin said the company would be responsible for any damages incurred, but would treat the fiber optics cable as any other existing utility. Calvin said foliage in some lake subdivisions would make providing service difficult, but the company will try to work with areas where it will be welcomed and feasible.
The court agreed to let FastNet use right-of-ways.
“One of the things we’re going to do is existing customers [will be offered] much higher speeds,” Calvin said. “Our eventual goal is to keep rolling that out and let it build on itself. Just like when we initially came here with the grant, since then we’ve continued to expand and offer more and more coverage.”
Calvin said he hopes to expand into Caldwell County, too. The company currently provides Internet services to more than 1,000 households, split evenly between the two counties.
Calvin said the company approached Eddyville last year about a possible expansion, but didn’t gain much traction.
“We’ve got so many people out in the county that should have the same level of access as anywhere else,” Calvin said. “Wade has really pushed to say ‘hey, we’ve got this demand.’”
To provide service, FastNet has to be able to convert from fiber optic to wireless and back again. Calvin said he has identified areas in Caldwell County where they could expand if they are able to lay new lines.
Through eight years of service, FastNet has worked to keep from raising rates while continuing to provide services. In 2012, Caldwell and Lyon counties received more than $150,000 in grant funding from the Delta Regional Authority to expand broadband Internet access. Another $55,000 in Delta funding followed in 2013.
But grant money has been more scarce for small telecomm companies in recent years, making it cost prohibitive to expand in some areas. FastNet attempted to expand throughout Eddyville last year, but was asked to pay $50,000 for access to the city’s right-of-ways.
Calvin said he hopes to talk more with officials in Caldwell County in coming weeks about sites already identified for potential service.