Mediacom officials say they have offered to put 2 gigabit service throughout the city of Orange Beach if the city will agree to give them $1.2 million, but it’s not something anyone with the city is taking very seriously.
“Not at this time,” Mayor Tony Kennon said.
Mediacom and rival CenturyLink are not exactly favorites with city leaders. When the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) contractor was ready to start on the long-anticipated Canal Road widening project, neither of those companies had even started moving their lines to make way for the new lane.
“I didn’t realize in the August meeting they were that much in conflict, that they had done nothing,” Councilman Jerry Johnson said. “This past meeting we had the construction crew and all that just came down on them. They had done nothing. They were sent a letter in January saying the facilities had to be relocated by Aug. 31. And they are the only two that have done nothing.”
Both have since said they would start moving lines and work ahead of crews working on drainage and other infrastructure for the Canal Road project.
“We are focused on completing project priorities, while coordinating with ALDOT’s road-expansion contractor,” CenturyLink spokesperson Mike Baker said in an email to Lagniappe. “CenturyLink expects to stay ahead of the contractor as we relocate our fiber-optic and copper cables, so as not to inhibit the contractor’s progress on the road.”
Recently, the city agreed to pay hometown company Island Fiber $350,000 to hire crews to expand service there, and will give the company $1,000 for the first 1,200 customers signed up for the service. That adds up to $1.2 million for the hookups.
“We didn’t realize the city was in the business of granting money,” Mediacom Vice President, Government and Public Relations, Tom Larsen said. “Not many cities are, so it was somewhat of a surprise to us.”
He forwarded a letter to the city making the offer which read, in part:
“If you’re willing to consider it, we’d be willing to upgrade our entire system in Orange Beach and next year launch a 2-gigabit-by-2-gigabit symmetrical service to every home and business in the city for the same $1.2 million grant that they are offering to Island Fiber.”
Johnson, head of the city’s telecommunications committee, is not alone in his skepticism about the offer and Mediacom itself.
“His letter, in my opinion, is a lot of smoke,” Johnson said. “There wasn’t a lot of fire there because they say they are providing gigabit service right now and they’re not. There’s no way they can provide it over a copper line and they don’t have fiber to the home. In his letter, he says they’re already talking 10 gigabits. I said you may be talking 10 gigabits in Atlanta or Denver or somewhere like that, but it’s not down here because you ain’t got the infrastructure down here.”
Johnson said he saw nothing in the letter to dissuade the city from continuing its partnership with Island Fiber, which is currently putting in lines at the east end of Canal Road with an eye on the large Bear Point neighborhood.
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