A company seeking to improve internet coverage in Union got an initial round of support from the Union Board of Aldermen.
At Tuesday’s parks, buildings, development and public service committee meeting, aldermen directed City Administrator Russell Rost to look into a proposed deal with Aironet.
The Washington-based internet service provider is seeking a partnership with the city of Union.
Greg Johnston, owner, said the company wants to locate some space on the top of city water towers for antennas, equipment and other materials needed to provide high-speed internet to the city.
In return for letting his company use the space, Johnston said
Aironet would provide free high-speed internet to the city and first responder buildings.
Johnston said he knew the city already had a service provider, but suggested Aironet could act as a backup. He said the company has a deal in place with the city of Washington where, if its internet goes down, the city can switch to Aironet and keep working while the problem is being addressed.
Johnston said the company was started after he bought a house that couldn’t get internet coverage. With limited options, Aironet was started.
For service, customers put a receiver on their home. That receiver would then connect with the equipment placed on the city towers.
Johnston said the company offers service to the Beaufort and Marthasville areas.
“We want to get into areas that are underserved or not served at all,” he said.
Johnston said Aironet provides fast service that, unlike satellite internet, is unlimited. He said the company also can offer faster speeds.
Rost said the two towers being looked at for potential use are near College Meadows and off Clearview Road.
The equipment needed for the towers would be fairly small, Johnston said. The antennae would only be about three feet tall.
Johnston said the size of the equipment makes it ideal for water towers and not for cellphone towers. Cell towers also tend to be taller while water towers are lower to the ground.
“They’re the perfect height,” he said.
Once the equipment is installed, Johnston said a 3-to 5-mile radius around those towers could then have access to Aironet’s coverage.
Johnston was asked if Aironet could provide service to Birch Creek, and he said it’s possible.
“If that was a requirement, I’d make it happen,” he said.
Rost said he and City Attorney Matt Schroeder had reviewed the proposal and didn’t have any major issues. Rost said he wants to consult with other cities and see how they handle tower leases before signing off on any deal.
Aldermen expressed support for the plan.
“We really have a need for that,” Alderman Karen Erwin said.
Rost told Johnston he would gather information and hoped to have a full report to give to the board in March so the project could move forward.