Allegheny Mt. Radio
At the January 12 Broadband Council Meeting, Sarah Riley said that the Operations and Maintenance Agreement (O&M) between the county and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) Citynet has now been finalized and is public record. Riley said this agreement, which specifically relates to the Appalachian Regional Com- mission (ARC) Grant Project, will serve as a blueprint agreement for future broadband agreements in the county, and will likely serve as a blueprint for other counties to use as well in their broadband projects. She described the agreement as “one of our biggest accomplishments as a Broadband Council – a significant milestone.”
Riley explained that Pocahontas County will own the project until the end of the ARC Grant, upon which time it will be transferred to Citynet as long as Citynet is doing a good job operating the service. She said even after ownership is transferred, the county will retain some strands of the fiber for any use the county wants. The agreement also requires Citynet, if they lease out some of the fiber strands to a third party, such as another ISP, that a percentage of the income Citynet derives from that lease will go to the county. Riley said the county will also receive five percent of the the fees residents pay Citynet for providing Internet service to customers. She said under this agreement, Citynet will also handle all of the maintenance, customer care and service calls for the Internet service, which also includes Citynet notifying the county, and all of the customers, if there is an outage.
Mike Holstine added that, under this agreement, the county agreed to keep up with this project, even when the ARC Grant ends, and “not just let the project linger.” At that time, the county will determine if Citynet is doing a good job running the service and, if not, Citynet could be removed. He added that this is a great agreement for the county, and the Broadband Council should be very proud of the job they did negotiating it.
Cory Nipper, an Engineer with the Thompson and Litton Company (T&L,) who have been hired to help get the project going, told the council that they are working closely with Citynet to get permits for all the first energy poles that will be used for the project’s fiber-optic lines. He said everything else is also going smoothly, including the environmental coordination, which was completed a few months ago, and they are now waiting to hear back from the Army Corps of Engineers about that.
There was some discussion about the difference between the O&M agreement Roane County executed with Citynet for its Broadband Project, in which Roane County retained ownership of 50 percent of the fiber strands, which could allow them to bring in an additional ISP. While here, Pocahontas County is retaining ownership of a much smaller percentage of the project’s fiber strands. It was explained that Roane county’s project was much more expensive since they are installing 288-strand fiber in Roane County while the Pocahontas County project will only install 144-strand fiber. Citynet explained they will need most of the 144 strands to service all the customers in Pocahontas County.
Citynet has agreed to come to a future Broadband Council meeting to further explain this and let the council know how much more it would cost the county to install the 288-strand fiber, that would allow the county to retain ownership of 50 percent of the strands.
In addition, Ruthana Beezley said council did a good job getting the word out to people to challenge the map. The council will contact our two U.S. Senators to try and get the FCC to reopen the challenge period.