Hudson's internet service will seek more residential customers

City Council allows Velocity Broadband to offer service to potential customers located more than 300 feet from fiber line

Phil Keren
Kent Weeklies
A Hudson Public Power employee is pictured running fiber-optic cable to power Velocity Broadband’s Gigabit high-speed internet service to businesses. City Council has given Velocity permission to seek residential customers who are located more than 300 feet from the existing fiber line.

HUDSON — The city's high-speed internet service will work to secure more residential customers.

City Council had originally instructed Velocity Broadband to only connect residences that are within 300 feet of the existing fiber line, according to city spokesperson Jody Roberts. On Aug. 25, Roberts said council agreed to lift that restriction and allow Velocity to hook up residential customers that are outside of the 300-foot boundary.

"Council agreed to eliminating that 300 foot rule … to hook up customers provided there is a significant number of residents taking the service in the nearby area and there is evidence of a return on investment," stated Roberts. "… We are not planning to connect all residents in the city." 

Paul Leedham, chief innovation officer for the city's information technology officer, said removing the 300-foot buffer is "the best strategic maneuver … to exponentially help our [return on investment]."

He added that removing the buffer would "allow the community itself and the interest within the community to drive what we do with the remaining funds that we have."

Council member Chris Foster (Ward 2), who, along with Council member Skylar Sutton (Ward 3), met with Velocity leaders in June, said Velocity has "roughly" 300 commercial customers and 50 to 60 residential customers. There are not many prospective residential customers that live within the 300-foot zone, Foster said.

Velocity is competing with Spectrum and Windstream for customers. Foster noted he felt Velocity should focus on providing service to parts of the city that are not being fully served by Spectrum or Windstream.

"If we can find those small areas that would benefit from the funds…that are already committed for installation, then let's try to derive some profit from that and provide some benefit," said Foster. 

He added a discussion about expanding the service throughout the city is "an entirely different conversation."

Sutton noted he did not want Velocity service expanded outside of the city limits until it is offered throughout the municipality.

"Use the money in the way that provides the most value," stated Foster. "[Velocity is] surviving right now. [They] are in the black… Let's take it from here."

Council member Beth Bigham (Ward 4) said she thought Velocity officials should've brought a strategic plan to the Aug. 25 meeting rather than just a map showing areas that are potentially interested in Velocity service.

"I'm still not sure that I understand the business case for it … how much it costs, where the money's coming from, how it's repaid, all these different things that I feel I need to understand before I could say, 'yes, I'm supportive of you moving forward with [pursuing customers] beyond [300] feet, " said Bigham.

Council President Bill Wooldredge (At Large) said he believed Velocity Broadband has drawn businesses to the city and kept other companies in town.

He said he wanted Velocity officials to return to council with its plan to repay the debt it has incurred.

Mayor Craig Shubert added he wanted Velocity officials to provide a tactical plan for the next year on what can be accomplished once the 300-foot buffer is removed.

"What can you do with the money you currently have, how can you grow this business," asked Shubert.

Leedham said lifting the 300-foot buffer will allow Velocity to take a new approach to attracting customers and offering service in neighborhoods.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.