Paris hires consultant to explore plan for better internet for whole town

There are many good reasons to live in Paris — like no local government property tax and wide open spaces — but excellent internet access isn’t one of them.

However, the Paris Town Board is exploring changing that by finding a partner to install a fiber optic based network that could allow speedy internet to reach all town homes, eventually at least.

At Tuesday’s regular Town Board meeting, the board agreed to hire a consultant from e-vergent to map out what such a network might look like — and cost. The cost for the consulting will be no more than $158,400.

“This is a lot of money, but if we don’t go ahead with this we’re just spinning our wheels,” said Supervisor Ken Monson.

Some larger businesses that lie in land that was recently in the town near the interstate have paid for the installation of sophisticated infrastructure to bring high speed internet to their establishments. Paris School has internet via a statewide project to ensure quality internet access to schools.

But residences and smaller businesses in the town, event those close to those service points, are not able to access the same level of internet access, explained Chairman John Holloway.

With no cable TV service in town, residents relay on cellular, satellite or other methods for internet access in which performance can vary depending on location of towers and geographic features blocking transmission.

Recently, the Town Board met separately with e-vergent and Spectrum at special meetings about what each company could do to provide the service. Those companies gave rough estimates of $5 million and $8 million respectively for the cost of creating a cabled network. The cost would be covered through a combination of company investment, town investment and possibly grants.

The board had considered having a referendum on the April election regarding the internet project, but a deadline for getting an issue on the April ballot was missed last week, when the board’s regular January meeting was cancelled due to weather, Holloway said. A referendum could next be held in November.

A representative of e-vergent at Tuesday’s meeting said a report should be ready for the town by the end of the third quarter.

“I can’t commit to the whole project without having more information,” Holloway said.


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