Fairlawn Gig Adds Speed, Lowers Price

In an economy where inflation seems to be everywhere, Fairlawn, Ohio residents are getting a bit of welcome news.

Subscribers to FairlawnGig – Fairlawn, Ohio’s municipal broadband network – are being upgraded to new service levels as the city-owned network bumps up speeds and slashes prices to make its fiber Internet service faster, and even more affordable.

Earlier this week, FairlawnGig announced that subscribers who had been getting Fairlawn’s basic service tier of symmetrical 300 Megabits per second (Mbps) were being upgraded to symmetrical gig speed service – for the exact same price of $55/month.

FairlawnGig also announced that subscribers who had previously been getting gig speed service will see their bills drop down to $55/month instead of the $75/month they had been paying. Meanwhile, subscribers who were getting 2.5 Gigabits per second (Gbps) for $150/month will now be upgraded to a symmetrical 5 Gbps tier, and see their price drop to $100/month.

“That was always the plan from the very beginning,” the City of Fairlawn’s Public Service Director Ernie Staten told ILSR this week.

We have been striving at all times to bring the greatest speeds and to bring prices down. We have made it where we have done well enough financially to start lowering prices and providing greater speeds.

Local Businesses Threatened to Leave – Unless Better Internet Comes to Town

Fairlawn, a small city of approximately 7,500 Ohioans about 10 miles northeast of Akron, created a telecommunications utility in 2015 to bring city-wide access to high-speed Internet service after years of dealing with subpar broadband offerings from the incumbent providers.

The city’s foray into municipal broadband became even more urgent when city officials began hearing from local businesses about the lack of adequate broadband.

“The main issue in Fairlawn was a terrible Internet level of service … With companies it was a real problem. We actually had some companies come to us and tell us that if they couldn’t get a better level of Internet service they would have to relocate … and not just outside of Fairlawn, but outside of the state of Ohio,” Fairlawn Mayor William Joseph Roth Jr. explained after the city decided to build the network.

Staten said that although FairlawnGig has a take-rate of 68 percent, the new offering the city hopes will bring in even more subscribers.

“Within 30 seconds of the announcement going out (of the new price and service tiers), we had two sign-ups for the 5 gig package,” Staten said. “That service level has traditionally been one that attracts mostly gamers. But we will see if this new price casts a wider net.”

More generally, Staten added, this week FairlawnGig has upgraded about 1,000 subscribers from the 300 Mbps tier to the new gig speed tier.

For subscribers who initially signed up for Fairlawn’s introductory offer of 30 Mbps downstream/30 Mbps upstream for $30/month (or 125/125 Mbps for $40/month), they are being allowed to keep that level of service for the same price, if they choose. Only about 400 of Fairlawn’s subscribers have opted to do that.

Fairlawn Speeds Forward, Stays Ahead of Misinformation Campaign

The new offering comes at an ideal time as a number of the big telecom companies are announcing or will be instituting price hikes in the coming months.

“We have a take-rate of 68 percent and that’s with (Charter) Spectrum, Frontier and Everstream in the market,” Staten said, noting how he is now seeing industry front groups like the Alliance for Quality Broadband ramping up its anti-municipal broadband campaign across Ohio.

I just saw something recently from them that specifically called out Fairlawn and said we are a ‘money-hole.’ But the reality is: we are truly a success story.

A similar disinformation campaign has cropped up in Hudson, Ohio, just as that city has issued a Request for Proposals to expand its existing municipal broadband network to cover the entire city through a public-private partnership, as we reported on here.

To learn more about the anti-municipal broadband campaign being waged by the Alliance for Quality Broadband, listen to one of our Community Broadband Bits podcasts on the subject here.

Watch a video on the origin and development of FairlawnGig below.