TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - How would you like to have ultra-high-speed internet at your house?
Cinergy MetroNet, a fiber optic cable company, has been talking to county and city officials about a plan to bring ultra-high-speed internet and TV to residents in Tippecanoe County.
How fast is this fiber optic internet? On their website, Cinergy MetroNet advertises that it can be as much as 20 times faster than DSL or cable. How much would it cost? Company officials said prices should be comparable to what residents currently pay for internet and cable tv services. They based this on prices in the cities where they already provide fiber optic internet.
The company spoke to county commissioners Monday about their biggest obstacle, financing.
Cinergy MetroNet has laid its fiber optic cables in ten other cities and counties across the state. For that to happen in Tippecanoe County, it would cost Cinergy between $40 to 50 million.
The only thing holding them back is financing. Cinergy MetroNet said it would need a break on taxes to help finance the project.
"Those taxes would be pledged to go into TIF which would be used to repay the bond Cinergy MetroNet buys," said Richard Starkey, a Cinergy MetroNet attorney.
Commissioner David Byers said it wouldn't cost the taxpayers a penny.
"It's not out of the taxpayers' pocket. It is a matter of a company using what they would be paying for taxes to help pay for the bonds. Once the bonds are paid off, they will start paying their taxes. A roundabout way, you can call it a tax abatement, almost," said Byers.
Nothing has been approved yet by city and county officials. Cinergy MetroNet board member Steve Biggerstaff said between 30 to 50 jobs would be created should Greater Lafayette move forward with the company.
The company hasn't mapped out exactly where they would start laying fiber cables first, but it will most likely begin within city limits of Lafayette and West Lafayette and expand later on.
"As you expand out in the county, it's where there are large housing developments and things like that. I can see them getting out to that area. Will they get to my house? No, but it's a chance to improve," said Byers.
Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said the fiber optic network would also attract new businesses to the area, allowing for economic growth.
Murtaugh said Cinergy MetroNet is the only company to approach Tippecanoe County about fiber optic options.
Murtaugh has spoken with officials in the ten communities in the state where Cinergy MetroNet is already present. He said he has only received positive feedback.
Commissioner David Byers economic growth is one benefit fiber optic internet could provide, but he sees other benefits as well.
"That's why we are looking at it, that part of it. And just the educational part where you can get it to schools so they can connect and work with their kids at home. There is an option for them. You see schools starting to go bookless. This is a chance for them to interlock with their schools. Governments can now talk to each other faster and simpler and easier," said Byers.
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