Indiana-based fiber optic internet and cable TV provider MetroNet is interested in providing cable services to much of Northfield.

During a June 1 meeting, the Northfield City Council unanimously found the company’s application to be in compliance with state requirements and authorized staff to continue negotiations with MetroNet to try to reach an agreement.

The agreement would allow MetroNet to serve approximately 85% of the community. Brian Grogan of Moss & Barnett Law Office, the group working with the city during the process, noted that vast of a proposed territory is “rare” when there is already an already incumbent operator. Charter Communications already has a cable service franchise in the community.

Any franchise consideration will occur at a future meeting. Grogan noted that a 50-page proposed contract will be unveiled June 15 addressing how construction will occur. Company representatives are expected to attend next week’s meeting and a July council meeting.

Grogan noted that cities only have regulatory authority over cable services. Broadband regulations are set at the federal level, and telephone service requirements are a state-level matter. Cities are required by federal law to promote competition in cable communications and minimize “unnecessary regulation” that would “impose an undue economic burden” on cable systems, Grogan added.

John Jensen, MetroNet vice president of economic development, said his company “will certainly provide” a more lucrative broadband option for potential providers. No channel bandwidth limitations are expected.

The company plans to build a network hub in Northfield and have video transported from company headquarters in Evansville, Indiana, to Northfield via redundant long haul fiber circuits. Jensen noted existing underground and above-ground cable routes would not be changed if the council green lights the agreement. In Northfield, 262,000 feet of such distribution is underground, while 138,000 is delivered above ground.

MetroNet Holdings LLC provides cable, internet and phone services to businesses and residential customers in Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and 14 communities in Minnesota. MetroNet is also pursuing additional cable franchises in Virginia.

Reach city reporter Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2021 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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