As Newport Utilities (NU) in Tennessee moves forward with a plan to offer Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) connectivity, they are holding public informational meetings. At a recent meeting, locals received the plan positively, reinforcing that idea that NU is on the right track.
The network will be funded by a $3.5 million interdepartmental loan from the utility’s electric system in addition to a USDA loan. The first phase of the build out will connect just under 6,800 residential and approximately 1,200 business premises. It will also bring electric substations, the city of Newport, emergency services, and local schools on to the new infrastructure. The second phase will continue to connect remaining NU’s service area.
Why Are THEY Here Anyway?
In recent weeks, anti-muni groups from Knoxville and other areas have targeted the project, raising questions among the community; NU officials wanted to address the misinformation directly. Chair of the board Roland Dykes said:
“There has been alot of publicity, negative and positive in the community and we wanted to do this to make sure everybody understood what we are trying to do, and what broadband will mean for our community.”
WNPC reported that “virtually all of the attendees were positive about the plan, because many areas of Cocke County are without Internet service.” WNPC also noted that the only unfavorable opinion was from an attendee who refused to answer when asked if he was backed by the cable industry. That individual doesn’t live in Cocke County.
Raising Speeds, Holding Down Rates...A Muni Tradition
A former NU employee who is now with the Morristown Utility Board spoke at the meeting, describing how the publicly owned network attracts businesses to Morristown. In addition to boosting economic development, MUS FiberNet brings fast, affordable, reliable connectivity to residents and businesses in the MUS service area. They started serving premises in 2006 with FTTH and have never raised rates, even though they HAVE increased speeds for their standard speed tier.
In fact, Morristown is consistent with other municipal networks in Tennessee - raising speeds while keeping rates steady. Check out our fact sheet based on historical rates for munis in Tennessee.
NU plans to offer 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $39 per month.
The next step in the process will be to obtain a resolution from the Newport City Council supporting the project at their June meeting.