Lincoln will join an elite group of cities offering ultra-high speed Internet through fiber to every home and business under the city’s proposed agreement with ALLO communications, said Wendy Birdsall, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce president.
ALLO, a Nebraska-based company recently acquired by Nelnet, will provide Internet, television and telephone service to all parts of the city within four years, under agreements subject to a public hearing at Monday’s City Council meeting.
The company will offer a minimum Internet speed of 100 megabits per second, along with the ultra-fast 1-gigabit option.
With 100 megabit service you can watch five movies, search the Web and answer emails at the same time, said David Young, who works on fiber issues for the city.
There is also national prestige for being “a gig city,” said Birdsall, one of several people who praised what ALLO promises to bring to the market.
Connecting digital fiber to the home allows employees of global organizations to work from anywhere, said Bradley Walker, who has been pushing for a citywide fiber network for more than a decade.
"You have a world-class deal in front of you," he said.
Competition should reduce the cost of similar services to Lincoln residents, said Brad Moline, ALLO president.
Time Warner and Windstream already have cable franchise agreements with the city.
Under its agreement ALLO will be barred from some of the business practices that have irritated TV and Internet customers, Young said.
* Everyone pays the same price for the same service, no negotiations.
* No long-term contracts for residential service contracts.
* No installation fees and no modem fees.
The company will offer a 15 percent discount for qualified low-income residents. The city may tack on an additional 15 percent discount, drawing from franchise agreement income.
The company will provide high speed Internet service to many of the city's government buildings, and ALLO will help connect the city’s traffic signals using fiber, rather than copper lines, making it easier to detect problems on the network and making the city's streets smarter, said Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird.
The company will set up a public Wi-Fi network in three areas of the city yet to be determined.
Under the agreements ALLO will lease the existing city conduit system, putting in the company’s fiber and extending fiber access to every business and residence.
The company plans to begin extending the fiber network when the ground thaws in late February or early March. The decision on which areas will get access to service first will be controlled primarily by engineers working on the fast-track project, Moline said.
Generally the company can generate a greater profit in residential areas where houses are closer together, so there is no financial incentive in doing work in wealthier areas first, he added.
The company will spend about $100 million on the project, with the city spending about $580,000 a year over the next four years to pay and equip six additional employees to handle the required inspections.
The city will initially borrow from existing funds, which will be repaid with additional franchise fees, Young said.