HUDSON — The city’s high-speed internet service is hoping to expand its bandwidth capacity at a time when it is facing some added competition.
City Council on Tuesday will review legislation amending its contract with Crown Castle Fiber LLC to increase the bandwidth capacity for the municipality’s Velocity Broadband system from 2 gigs to 3 gigs.
Velocity Broadband would pay Crown Castle Fiber LLC $3,450 per month, or $41,400 annually, for the additional bandwidth that officials believe they need to meet the demands of current and future customers. Velocity was previously paying $2,800 a month ($34,560 per year).
Velocity Broadband officials said in a report to council there was a "sharp increase" in data usage by customers just before the COVID-19 shutdown in March.
"That increase resulted in 85-95% of our available capacity being used during the day," according to the Velocity Broadband report to council.
While usage was "significantly reduced" during the COVID-19 closures, businesses are starting to resume operations, and Velocity officials said they are beginning to see more than 80% of the system’s capacity being used again.
"We would like to have this additional capacity in-place before the full workforce of our business community returns," the report stated.
Officials noted they delayed an earlier decision on expanding bandwidth capacity to make sure the increase in usage before COVID-19 was not a "one-off event."
Velocity Broadband leaders are also slated to present their 2019 annual report and financial update to council on June 2. At that same meeting, council will also review legislation to roll $3.85 million in notes that were issued last year into one bond issue that will pay for acquiring and installing equipment for Velocity Broadband.
Windstream expanding service
As Velocity Broadband prepares for added demand, a competitor recently announced plans to expand its service. Kinetic by Windstream announced it is deploying fiber that will bring gigabit internet speeds to about 900 homes and businesses in the city. The company said the project is part of a multi-year investment program to deploy fiber and fiber-like services to communities in its 18-state network.
"Fast, reliable broadband is central to the economic development of the communities we serve, and we are proud to make this investment in Hudson," said Jeff Small, president of the company’s consumer and small and midsize business segment. "We’re proud to empower the communities we serve with access to the fastest internet services available anywhere."
Scott Morris, senior adviser for corporate affairs at Windstream, said Kinetic is the brand name for Windstream’s consumer, small and mid-size business segment "and for the products it offers." The gigabit service allows residential customers to do tasks such as connect multiple devices, work from home, and stream video. The gigabit service helps business customers with "large file transfers and enhanced collaboration tools," said Morris.
Morris said Windstream has provided high-speed internet service in Hudson since 2012.
The other internet service provider in Hudson is Spectrum.
Hudson City spokesperson Jody Roberts said Windstream has been "improving its service" in areas of the city "with fiber and fiber-backed solutions for the last two years." Even as this has happened, Roberts said customers have "continued to select [the city’s] Velocity [Broadband service] as their internet provider."
Roberts said Velocity Broadband was started by the city in 2015 because local businesses were complaining about not being able to get fast, reliable internet service in the municipality.
"The goal of Velocity Broadband has always been and will continue to be business retention and attraction," said Roberts. "Our goal is to provide all businesses in Hudson the essential internet service they rely on to be successful at affordable rates. If Velocity Broadband's presence in Hudson has encouraged Windstream to improve and expand its services in the city, then we encourage that improvement as it benefits our residents and businesses."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.