Metro-East town jumps into high-speed Internet business -

Metro-East town jumps into high-speed Internet business

In hopes of delivering Internet at speeds of up to 1,000 megabits per second, the city of Highland, Ill., is embarking on a project to build its own fiber-optic network.

The groundbreaking was held on Monday and crews plan to complete phase one of the project this fall. The first few customers will be online by October and most homes in Highland would have the option of tapping into the city's direct fiber connection by the end of next year.

The service will offer telephone, television, and Internet services.

"If you have the phone service through us, it'll show up right on your TV screen [that] so and so is calling. You push a button and you'll be able to actually have a teleconference through your television with grandma that lives in Texas," said Dan Cook.

Cook, the director of power and light for Highland, says the city can afford to jump into the broadband Internet business because Highland owns its own power distribution service.

The city owns and manages all the power lines and already has access to right of ways to install cable lines.

The entire concept is expected to cost $13 million. About $9 million of the start-up costs will be funded by bonds - a move voters signed off on last year.

The city has also applied for an federal tax-payer funded economic stimulus grant, geared toward helping rural communities. If the grant is awarded, Highland expects the project to be completed more quickly.

So how much will customers pay for the city's service? The city has not set its prices, but it insists it will compete with other providers in town.

Last week, I told you St. Louis is appealing to Google to build and test a high-speed fiber network that could carry data at speeds of up to one gigabit per second.

Read about that effort here:

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