WATERLOO — Waterloo residents now have a new choice in internet providers.
Metronet, based in Indiana, recently completed construction in the neighborhood around Crossroads Mall. All other areas of Waterloo – from the airport south to near Lost Island Waterpark, and the Katoski Greenbelt to the edge of Elk Run Heights – will be under construction soon.
Craig Zimmerman, Metronet’s government affairs manager, said the company looks for areas that are served by only a few providers.
“We identify cities that have a need for bringing a new fiber optic provider service to the community to attract and retain businesses and residents,” he said in a phone interview. “Waterloo fit that model for us.”
As service becomes available throughout Waterloo, residents using Metronet can choose from a variety of speeds up to two gigabits. Businesses can access speeds up to 10 gigabits. Upload and download speeds would be identical to each other.
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Zimmerman said the company doesn’t wait for the entire city to be built out before people can use its services. Construction happens neighborhood by neighborhood, usually 200 to 400 residences at a time.
Construction began in the fall and will continue to build for about two years.
Waterloo residents will see Metronet workers digging and burying cable on the easements of their properties. Those affected will receive notices of construction 30 days in advance, Zimmerman said. Flags will also be placed and Metronet trucks and employees may be around the area.
Initial construction will cost $20 million to $50 million, paid for by the company.
“We do this fully funded by Metronet,” Zimmerman said. “We don’t have requirements from federal, state or city funding, and it helps the city welcome us in.”
Waterloo allowed Metronet to offer service in the city but is still working on its own municipal broadband.
In September referendum, Waterloo residents approved issuing $20 million in general obligation bonds to fund the city’s fiber network. The goal is to offer all buildings and homes across Waterloo municipal service.
Pricing options for Metronet vary based on bandwidth packages. For 100 megabits, it is around $50 per month. The monthly cost is about $70 for 500 megabits, about $90 for one gigabyte, and $120 for two gigabytes. Unlimited fiber phone is roughly $20 per month. Exact rates for a specific address can be found by visiting the company’s website at shop.metronet.com.
Metronet also is bringing job to the area. There will be employees in the plant, installers and construction workers, and sales employees, Zimmerman said.
Those in Waterloo can sign up for installation by visiting metronet.com or calling (888) 225-3864.