When Orange Beach’s Telecommunications Committee began dreaming of getting light-speed internet via fiber into neighborhoods, a call went out to Google, among others.
“We were calling a lot of the providers and saying, ‘will you come and will you put fiber in Orange Beach?’” Councilman Jerry Johnson said. “After they stopped laughing, they said you’re only 6,000. Our minimum is the size of Birmingham before we come in.”
Fiber is now flowing to homes there, but it wasn’t Google or CenturyLink or Mediacom bringing the light-speed service to Orange Beach, but homegrown Island Fiber.
On Aug. 20, Orange Beach voted to give Island Fiber $350,000 to add crews and begin bringing fiber to homes all over the city. Currently, residents on Burkhart Lane are enjoying the service and crews are moving east on the south side of Canal Road with an eye on the Bear Point neighborhood.
“This is a huge economic development initiative for the city of Orange Beach to bring light-speed internet to our residential homes and to the city is a game changer,” Johnson said. “This city is in need of it. We’ve got people that call me on a regular basis on all the problems they have with their present internet providers. The answer to that is having fiber.”
Additionally, Island Fiber will get $1,000 for every customer hooked up to the system. Pre-registration is available through Aug. 31 for $25, which will cover the installation fee when crews do make it to neighborhoods. After Aug. 31 regular installation fees will apply. Service packages include 100-, 200- or 300-megabytes-per-second speeds ranging from $65 to $150 a month. Custom 1-gigabyte plans are also available.
“We appreciate Mickey [Franco] and the Island Fiber team doing this,” Johnson said. “They are all local, they are in Orange Beach. Mickey is a veteran, he loves what he’s doing, he has an excellent track record of installing. The city’s going to help him stand up additional crews to where he can build out every neighborhood in Orange Beach by December of 2020. Whatever neighborhood you’re in, he’s coming eventually.”
Jose “Mickey” Franco, Island Fiber owner, said he expects to be in Bear Point and finishing the 1,200 to 1,400 lots there within 90 days.
“We’ll also be adding crews on 161 to hit Cotton Bayou, Marina Road, Terry Cove and West Oak Ridge,” Franco said. “Also, around that same time when those guys get kicked off, we’ll also be on the west side of Canal Road behind the service road going to Lauder Lane and the neighborhoods behind it. That’s where we are right now.”
The service will be provided to every home or potential home lot as it expands through the city.
“We will be running fiber to every lot line in the city as well,” Franco said. “We’re deploying to individual parcels, not just actual residences.”
In March, Gulf Shores granted a franchise to Point Broadband but no homes have received the service. Economic Development Coordinator Blake Phelps said the company was in negotiations with D.R. Horton and Truland homebuilders to provide fiber to new neighborhoods.
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