Close to connecting subscriber number 500, Owensboro, Kentucky’s OMUFibernet is also ready to continue expansion to more neighborhoods as they develop their publicly owned Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) gigabit network.
In 2016, Owensboro Municipal Utilities (OMU) decided to experiment by engaging in a pilot project that offered gigabit connectivity to approximately 500 premises. The project also allowed businesses within the geographic areas to lease fiber if they chose a more flexible option.
The success of the pilot project encouraged OMU to expand OMUFiberNet to the rest of the city. Now that almost 30 percent of potential subscribers have signed up, OMU is ready to move into yet another neighborhood. OMU Telecommunications Superintendent Chris Poynter recently told the Messenger-Inquirer:
"We have been very deliberate in how we grow our service area. It has to be both cost-effective and fair. What we really did not want to do is cherry-pick desirable demographics. What we said from the very beginning was that we are a municipal utility and we’re all about serving the community, so we’re going to let technology and cost determine how we deploy it."
OMUFiberNet offers three tiers of service with all speeds symmetrical. A one-time installation fee of $49.99 applies:
50 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $49.99 per month
100 Mbps for $69.99 per month
1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) for $99.99 per month
"Can We Go to Grandma's?"
Subscriber Connie Singer and her grandkids have been using OMUFiberNet for about a year; Singer moved into a new home that was already connected to the network. Her grandchildren are gamers, she says, and OMUFiberNet provides “the fastest Internet service she’s ever seen.” The symmetrical gigabit service allows the household to run two gaming computers at once.
She also likes the fact that all her utilities, including Internet access, are on one utility bill. “It’s amazing,” she says.
OMU installed fiber optic infrastructure in the 1990s to support its electric grid and began using the asset to connect local businesses in 1999. OMUFiberNet is a division of the electric utility, but the electric utility does not fund the telecommunications division. Subscriber revenue pays for network deployment through revenue bonds.
"Our growth has been deliberate because of costs," said OMU spokeswoman Sonya Dixon. "We pay as we go, and we pay to cover costs. We do that because we have to, and we do it so that services don't denigrate as we grow."