Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

Est. 2014

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Sean Baker Editor

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Bryan Lund Reporter

MetroNet to challenge Charter in Rochester

MetroNet to challenge Charter in Rochester

Rochester’s cable market will soon see some competition.

The city council on Monday approved a five-year franchise agreement with MetroNet that will allow the company to build a fiber optic cable system in Rochester. While the franchise from the city only covers cable television, the company also offers phone and broadband service.

MetroNet has 240 days from the time the franchise takes effect to begin building a network locally. As part of its agreement with the city, MetroNet commits to covering 80 percent of dwelling units within five years.

“They expect to beat that,” Brian Grogan, a lawyer representing the city, told the council. “They talked about their more aggressive schedule. But for contract purposes, that’s what they were willing to commit to.”

MetroNet will be the first major challenger to Charter Communications, which now has a near monopoly on cable and broadband.

To build its system in Rochester, MetroNet will construct an independent fiber optic system, neighborhood by neighborhood. Grogan described the company’s investment as an “intense and expensive operation.”

“They are going to be building their own, separate, competitive system, which is of benefit to the city and residents to have competition,” Grogan told the council Monday afternoon.

MetroNet’s agreement with the city will largely mimic the one the city signed with Charter in 2016. Both companies are required to pay a 5 percent franchise fee and serve some public buildings, like schools.

Indiana-based MetroNet is a relatively new player in the TV and Internet market. They started in 2005 and are now in more than 50 communities throughout their home state, Illinois and Kentucky.

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