After months of deliberations, the Mercer County Fiscal Court has entered a partnership with All Points Broadband to expand internet service throughout the county.
At the fiscal court’s regular meeting on Tuesday, June 28, Chuck Hogg, the senior vice president at All Points, answered a list of questions submitted by the magistrates. Hogg said All Point-whose corporate offices are located in Richmond, Virginia-focuses on rural broadband. While All Points was formerly a fixed wireless operator, Hogg said they’re looking to build 13,000 acres of fiber to serve 19 counties in Virginia. All together, the provider is working with 22 counties in Kentucky and Virginia.
All Point actively seeks partnerships with utility companies, which helps drive down costs. Hogg said they are in discussions with Inter County Energy. He said All Points will perform all the studies and take care of the grant writing, determining which grants best serve the county’s needs. The first round of funding was announced last week.
He said the labor will be contracted out and All Point will receive no further subsidy once the network is built. Hogg said All Points will continue building out the network.
All Points is asking for a year commitment from the county. Hogg said three field technicians have already surveyed Mercer County. He said they can determining the under served/unserved population through online survey.
“Our goal is to holistically provide internet to 100 percent of the unserved population of Mercer County,” Hogg said. He said it may require more than one grant.
Hogg said their goal is to provide 10 gigabit internet to every location via fiber.
“We’re asking for you to commit to us,” Hogg said. After the survey is completed, the county would not be on the hook if it was determined the project was too expensive. Hogg said the American Recovery Plan is still the primary source for funding for broadband, but there are two other possible sources of grants.
The magistrates also heard a proposal from AT&T, which claims to serve 2,500 locations in Mercer County. AT&T admitted their proposal did not meet what the county was looking for, but noted that All Point’s plans are contingent on federal funding. They warned getting that funding was going to be a long process, because everything involving the federal government is a long process.
After hearing both proposals, Judge-Executive Scott Moseley threw it open for a motion. Commissioner Ronnie Sims moved to go with All Points, with Commissioner Jackie Claycomb seconding.
The motion passed unanimously.
In other business, the Mercer County Fiscal Court renewed the waste disposal agreement with Rumpke, who had presented the court with three options, including one with a fuel surcharge for customers that would change every month. After considering the options, the magistrates voted to renew the contract without the surcharge. Prices are locked into June 30, 2024, when residential service goes to from $19,25 a month to $20.25 a month.