June 30, 2016

Partly cloudy

County joins 151-mile fiber-optic network

MEDINA — The Medina County Commissioners voted Monday to join a countywide fiber-optic network despite a challenge from Armstrong Cable, the company that now provides the county’s Internet service.

The Port Authority owns the 151-mile, 144-strand fiber-optic network, which is designed to provide high-bandwidth connections to businesses, local governments, schools and libraries. The network was a project 10 years in the making and was completed late last month.

Supporters of the fiber-optic network said it will create competition among service providers, potentially resulting in lower prices.

County Administrator Chris Jakab said the county will enter into a five-year agreement with the Port Authority, with service starting in about four months.

Jakab said the county will pay $2,700 per month for Internet connectivity — $600 less than the $3,300 a month Armstrong charges.

Minutes after the commissioners unanimously approved changing service providers, Armstrong’s General Manager Karen Troxell disputed Jakab’s figures.

Troxell said the Armstrong bill is made up of a $2,474 fiber-optic lease and an $826 Internet fee. She said the new agreement only covered the fiber-optic lease. She said the county still would have to pay for Internet access, which would bring the total bill to more than $3,500.

“I think this decision needs to be rethought,” she told the commissioners. “Or I need an explanation as to why you’re willing to pay more money for these services.”

Jakab said Troxell was mistaken, saying the fiber network’s $2,700 fee includes a $300 fee for Internet access.

Troxell continued to argue the county would end up costing more. She said that’s because the county would have to pay for video services Armstrong now provides for free, which allow the county courts to hold remote arraignments from the jail.

Troxell said the county also indicated it was keeping the county park district connected with Armstrong, which would cost an estimated $300 a month.

Jakab said a decision about how to connect the park district hasn’t been made yet.

After hearing Troxell’s arguments, county Commissioner Pat Geissman said the commissioners should rescind their vote and investigate the issue.

The other two commissioners, Steve Hambley and Adam Friedrick, disagreed, saying they should wait until all the cost figures are in.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.