An internet service provider looking to compete with Cox Communications in Norfolk is set to start serving customers in January after unforeseen permitting and construction issues caused them to miss their original spring target.
MetroNet service will be available in parts of the city from early to mid-January and their coverage area will increase over the next two years, according to a company spokesperson.
The delay was caused by unexpected misfires during the permitting process for the “cabin”, the physical structure that will house the “brain” of the network and where all their fiber optic lines will feed into Norfolk, said spokesman Andrew Brummette.
But MetroNet will take an important step this the week. The company this month has obtained its final permit and will begin construction of the cabin this week, Brummette said, adding that it will take about 4 to 6 weeks to complete.
Construction to lay the fiber cable began at Five Points in November. Since then, the company’s service map shows construction underway in the central part of town west of Chesapeake Boulevard. Neighborhoods where construction is listed as being underway extend from Sherwood Forest in the south, Lochhaven and Talbot Park in the west, and north through Wards Corner to Willoughby Spit and West Ocean View.
The service will first go live in the Five Points area, in neighborhoods north of Norview Avenue and west of Sewells Point Road, and will span two years “as you would imagine a circle expanding from from a central point,” Brummette said.
“Our plans are to initially build north of Sewells Point Road towards Ocean View,” he said in an email. “We are also preparing to build east and west of Sewells Point Road as we progress.”
MetroNet chose this area to begin service as it is roughly the geographic center of Norfolk. While there are no official plans for expansion to other parts of Hampton Roads, Brummette said, “it’s definitely something we’ll be looking at.”
The nearly $90 million project will provide Norfolk residents with a second Internet service option. Cox Communications is the only internet service provider in Norfolk and has long been a source of complaints for residents and some city officials.
Chris Jones, a city spokesman, said they were “pleased” that MetroNet and Cox were investing in Norfolk. Cox’s franchise in Norfolk is currently under contract until 2028, and the company recently upgraded its local system, according to Jones.
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“The addition of a second high-speed Internet service provider is a win for Norfolk residents, businesses and students,” Jones said. “Across many industries, competition has been proven time and time again to benefit consumers through greater choice of prices, delivery times and available services, as well as improved redundancy.”
MetroNet is the nation’s largest independent fiber optic Internet provider, according to a review of the company by CNET.com. The Indiana-based company was founded in 2005 and primarily served the Midwest regions.
“Our specialty is providing fiber optic Internet access to residents and businesses in what we would consider underserved communities, communities that typically have only one incumbent provider,” Brummette said. “So we’re really stepping in to provide an additional option by providing the best and most efficient way to access the internet with today’s technology.”
Before their fiber is “on,” MetroNet will launch a marketing campaign, which will include pop-up events and signage in the area. The company will also participate in the 36th annual Grand Illumination Parade on Nov. 19 and intends to build a physical outlet, Brummette said.
Metronet officials previously said fares would be similar to those posted on MetroNet’s website. Advertised prices include $49.95 per month for 200 Mbps internet speed and $69.95 per month for 1 gigabit per second speed.
Brummette said MetroNet will launch 2-gigabit packages in all of its markets in the “near future.”
Pierre Gavin, 757-712-4806, email@example.com
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