MetroNet expanding into Zionsville, Carmel, Fishers

A high-speed, fiber-optic internet service provider has plans to spread throughout the northern suburbs.

Evansville-based MetroNet Inc., which announced plans in 2015 to build a fiber-optic network in Westfield, is expanding into Carmel, Fishers and Zionsville.

Steve Biggerstaff, business development with MetroNet, said the company is only partially building in Carmel and Fishers, and no customers are being served in those areas yet.

But the Zionsville network will be spread throughout a majority of the town, similar to MetroNet’s $17 million investment in Westfield.

The work involves installing fiber optic cable throughout the town and constructing the necessary facilities to house the electronics for high speed internet, telephone and television services. MetroNet says its internet speeds reach as fast as 1 gigabit.

The Zionsville Town Council agreed earlier this month to issue up to $1.5 million in bonds to bring the service provider to the community. The bonds will be paid for by taxes paid by MetroNet, which expects to make a $10 million investment in Zionsville during the next several years.

Richard Starkey, an attorney with Barnes & Thornburg LLP representing the town of Zionsville, said there’s no risk on the town’s part because, unlike traditional bonds, MetroNet will not receive any of the bond proceeds up front. Instead, the company receives a stream of cash as the infrastructure is built, similar to a rebate.

The council voted 5-1 on Feb. 6 on the agreement. Council member Kevin Spees voted against it and council member Tom Schuler was absent.

Town officials have pegged the move as an economic development strategy, saying it will make the community more attractive to businesses looking to move or expand.

Biggerstaff said it’s uncertain when exactly the services will be available in Zionsville, but it should be by the fall. It is expected to take a year to 2 years to build out completely.

The company has not requested public funds for its work in Carmel or Fishers. Biggerstaff said that’s because the buildout is not as comprehensive. If MetroNet decides to increase its presence in those communities in the future, Biggerstaff said the company would ask for public support.

The city of Westfield provided a $2 million bond paid for by personal property tax increment financing dollars to assist MetroNet in the cost of building the fiber-optic network.

MetroNet started in Greencastle in 2005 and has since expanded to 27 communities in Indiana and three in Illinois.

“We’re in expansion mode,” Biggerstaff said. “We’re consistently looking at places to build.”

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