Evansville firm plans $17M fiber-optic network in Westfield

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A fiber-optic services provider based in Evansville is expanding to Westfield to offer fast Internet and another option for cable and phone packages.

Metronet this week agreed to buy Inside Connect Cable and announced plans to spend $17 million to construct a fiber-optic network throughout the north-side community.

Metronet’s service would provide Internet speeds ranging from 30 megabits per second to 1 gigabit. The company also will offer cable and phone services.

The city of Westfield is using personal property tax increment financing to assist Metronet with the costs of building the fiber-optic network. The newly captured dollars will be used to pay for the nearly $2 million in bonds the city purchased with Metronet receiving the proceeds. 

"This is providing them with a low-cost $2 million loan," Mayor Andy Cook said. “The city has no obligation. There's zero risk to the city.”

The entire investment by Metronet is about $17 million, according to Cook.

Once construction of the fiber optic-network is complete within the next few months, Metronet will convert existing Inside Connect Cable customers and start accepting new customers. Inside Connect Cable has about 1,100 subsrcibers in Westfield currently, according to Metronet marketing manager Mindy Wingert. 

TV packages with Metronet will include “Whole Home DVR,” which allows customers to record shows and watch them on any TV in their home and “TV Everywhere,” which offers the opportunity to watch DVR recordings and other programs on a mobile device.

The phone service includes 17 calling features and 1,000 minutes of free long distance.

“Triple play” package prices range from $75.95 to $179.95 per month; TV and Internet duo-package prices go from $66 to $123; and Internet-only service costs range from $49.95 to $229.95, according to Metronet’s website.

The company intends to open a customer service office in Westfield and is in the process of finding a location.

“Metronet is looking forward to being a part of this growing community and becoming the leading communication service provider to the residents and business owners in Westfield,” Kevin Stelmach, vice president and general manager for Metronet, said in a statement.

Cook said the city welcomes a community-wide fiber-optic network, but didn’t want to use government funds to build it.

“To invest in technology can be a dangerous thing because technology changes so fast,” Cook said.

There’s also the benefit of providing more competition in Westfield for Internet, cable and phone services.

“I know many areas of the city do not have a choice when it comes to Internet or cable services,” Cook said. “Our citizenry was overwhelming in support of doing this… They want the competition that only the private sector can offer.”

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