Fiber internet company MetroNet plans to begin construction in New Bern this fall, with the first customers coming online as early as April 2022.
The service will offer competition for the region’s main Internet service provider, Sudden link.
Kris Smith, director of government affairs for MetroNet, said the project will take two to three years and will consist of a combination of underground and overhead fiber-optic cable connections.
She said the main draw of the fiber optic service was faster upload / download speeds and smoother video streaming. Services offered by MetroNet include video service up to 240 channels, a fiber optic telephone with up to 17 different calling features, fiber optic internet and a wireless telephone network.
“One of the best things about fiber is that you don’t have that sharing time with your neighbors, so on Saturday night when you are streaming a movie, you won’t encounter the wheel of death at screen, ”she commented.
The construction process will likely be more disruptive than most residents are used to
“Construction can be messy, it can be intrusive,” she admitted. “This type of telecommunications project in most communities hasn’t happened since the 1950s or 1960s when the original copper lines were installed, so it will be unique and different for a lot of people. “
Smith said MetroNet’s goal is to reduce surprises from neighborhood construction activities and ensure transparency about the process.
She said 30 to 45 days before construction, a letter will be mailed to residents to answer frequently asked questions about the work. This will be followed by postcards seven to 14 days before construction with information on how to contact MetroNet.
The final stage of public information will consist of individual courtyard signs and neighborhood entrance signs announcing the arrival of the narrowing.
Smith said MetroNet employees will work in utility easements and rights of way, which in some cases may be located in backyards.
“If there is a fence, we will place a flyer the day before asking them to unlock your fence, please restrain your pets and we will have to work in that easement the next day,” she explained.
MetroNet has a website where residents will be able to access information on the construction project. Smith said the New Bern Project is expected to be added to the website within the next 30 days. It will feature an interactive map where residents can enter their e-mail address and learn about the status of construction in their neighborhood as the project progresses. They can also submit questions and upload photos to the site.
“Our commitment to the residents of New Bern is that we will respond to all construction questions within 24 business hours,” said Smith.
Discussing the registration process, Smith said residents can get information on the company’s sales website, metronetinc.com.
“As we complete a neighborhood, we’ll open it up for sale. They will get marketing material and contacts, ”she noted.
Suddenlink complaints led New Bern to seek competitive service
At the New Bern Council of Aldermen meeting on August 24, Mayor Dana Outlaw noted that some areas of the city have very little internet service. He said the city of New Bern had received more than 200 complaints about Suddenlink via a specially created email.
“We are happy to see some competition in New Bern … We are really looking forward to a much better internet system,” he commented.
In March, the New Bern City Council of Aldermen announced that the city was in talks with MetroNet to offer an alternative to Suddenlink, Craven County’s main internet service provider. The following month, Council approved a request for the City to negotiate and execute an agreement with MetroNet allowing the parties to resolve permit issues, easement plans and questions about what MetroNet will offer in the area.
In July, the city of New Bern established a $ 7.2 million project fund to facilitate the infrastructure work needed by MetroNet to bring its services to New Bern. The Make Ready Public Infrastructure for Broadband Service Providers 2021 project fund was approved by the council of aldermen at its July 27 meeting. The funds will be used for the infrastructure works needed to bring fiber optic services to the city.
The works will have the greatest impact on the city’s utilities and public works and potentially affect all of the city’s public easements, rights-of-way and private land plots, said Charlie Bauschard, director of utilities.
He said about $ 7 million would be needed to prepare the city’s electrical infrastructure. The city will be reimbursed for these expenses as part of a pole fixing agreement, Bauschard said. He said he expected a “massive volume of construction activity happening simultaneously and spread across the city,” once work begins this fall.
“They want to go fast, they want to install the project and get out of here and connect the customers as quickly as possible,” Bauschard said.