Residential high-speed internet option interested in Jemison

Published 9:48 am Tuesday, October 18, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The Jemison City Council is considering a three-year contract to allow Alabama Lightwave to have wireless internet poles in the road right-of-way in order to provide high-speed internet to the city.

Company president and network engineer Josh Lambert of Centreville presented information about the contract and the overall system during a Oct. 17 council meeting.

Lambert said the company is in Centreville, Brent and is planning expansion into the rural areas of Bibb County.

“We now do the internet for the Bibb County 911 board, the Sheriff’s Office, police, probate office (and) courts,” Lambert said.

The company had not considered expanding to Jemison. However, Lambert had told someone that if the community was interested, then the company would consider it. Since then, those connected to Jemison have made their opinion known.

“Residents have made it clear that they want us here,” Lambert said, mentioning multiple Facebook comments in the Jemison community group, messages to him and emails.

The Alabama Lightwave air fiber system ties into existing fiber and then sets up wireless polls that project the signal to a receiver on a person’s house, which sends the signal to small routers within customers’ homes, to provide high speed internet. Lambert said if the company comes to Jemison it would purchase internet from Uniti Fiber, which is only available to commercial customers, to create its system. Lambert said the ultimate goal would be to link their Bibb County system, which buys internet from AT&T, with the Jemison system to have an option if one internet provider goes down.

“The technology is stupid fast,” Lambert said.

He compared the speeds to a fiber high-speed internet system.

The insurance for the equipment in the right-of-way would be held and paid for by Alabama Lightwave.

Jemison City Council members are planning a trip to Bibb County to see the system in action and talk to government leaders who are using the system. A vote on the three-year contract is expected at the next meeting on Nov. 7. The contract has already been reviewed by the city attorney and all recommended changes made.

“Your people are screaming at me (to provide internet) in a way I have never seen,” Lambert said.

Councilman Rex Bittle commented that city residents “are upset” that the main option in town is not reliable. CenturyLink outages have caused businesses to be unable to operate and left residents without internet multiple times in the last year. Bittle mentioned a recent outage this week that had his workplace, a local bank, down for at least an hour.

Projected price for the basic internet package of 25 mbps would be $55 per month plus a 5% franchise fee that would go to the city. Lambert said the franchise fee is a compensation for the city allowing the company to use the right-of-way. Standard installation fees would be waived for the first year, if the company gets approval to come to town.

Alabama Lightwave focuses on using American made materials, anti-virus software and backup systems. Part of this is to comply with ALEA and FBI regulations since the company provides internet to a 911 center. Because it provides internet for a 911 center, Alabama Lightwave is a Tier 1 restoration service, meaning the company is given priority in a storm to get back up and running.

Also during the Oct. 17 meeting, the Jemison City Council approved a restaurant retail liquor alcohol license for Casa Ortiz Bar and Grill and a contract with Republic Services for front load dumpster services.