Commissioners discuss future broadband service

Rick Stillion
The Daily Jeffersonian
Guernsey County

Guernsey County commissioners discussed fiber-optic broadband options for the county Monday during a meeting with representatives of Little Miami Gig, Ohio Gig and Fiber Capital Partners.

The businesses have joined forces to bring broadband service to underserved and unserved areas.

"They currently serve communities and customers in the western third of Ohio and they are looking focus on those same services in eastern Ohio," said Commissioner Dave Wilson following the 90-minute session.

"They are seeking to establish a relationship with us here (in Guernsey County) and they are looking for local investors to supplement their investment, but they are not asking the county for money.

"Instead, they requested we help facilitate meeting with local township trustees and key people in the areas they want to serve," added Wilson.

Commissioner Dave Wilson

The group is currently installing the fiber-optic broadband in Belmont County including lines that will serve the Barnesville Exempted Village Schools campus.

"They want to serve people and places that are out of the loop," said Wilson.

The meeting with Ohio Gig officials Nicholas Hunter, chief executive officer, and Jarrod Pantier, chief operating officer, and Michael Wise of Little Miami Group was arranged by Guernsey County Community Improvement Corporation Executive Director Norm Blanchard.

Blanchard was reportedly introduced to the group by Belmont County Port Authority Executive Director Larry Merry.

"Larry let Norm know these guys are legitimate," said Wilson. "They are in Belmont County and they want to come to Guernsey County."

Wilson said the group has also scheduled a meeting with Monroe County officials and plan to schedule meetings with officials in Muskingum and Tuscarawas counties.

Little Miami Gig is a community-based provider investing millions to build fiber-optic networks capable of delivering Internet speeds up to 10 gigabits per second and beyond to residents and businesses.

According to Little Miami Gig's website, the group offers "high-speed, low-latency and high-quality Internet service along with voice and video options, but without the strings of bundling required by legacy providers."

Wilson said the company started in Warren County in western Ohio after a local established business found itself in need of broadband service.

"They had several years of communication service behind them," said Wilson.    

Little Miami Gig has over 50 years of experience in the communications industry.

Meanwhile, Fiber Capital Partners is a private capital management business founded in 2020 that is dedicated to funding gigabyte fiber service builds in underserved areas across the state.

Started by members of a family office and expert Industry operators, Fiber Capital Partners website says they "seek to merge private capital investment with rural and underserved communities to drive impactful change in the lives of people who remain digitally disconnected in an increasingly connected world."

Commissioners plan to meet with the group in the future to continue discussions regarding broadband service in the county.

They have also discussed broadband options with Charter Communications and Windstream officials in recent months.

More:Charter expanding broadband service to nearly 4,000 in Guernsey County

More:Commissioners discuss broadband expansion with Windstream officials

In other business:

  • Commissioners signed a $1,449,995 contract for a paving project with NLS Paving Inc. of St. Clairsville. Paving on Hill Hill Road (County Road 346) extends from the intersection with Claysville Road and includes a portion of Georgetown Road, stopping at the Cambridge corporation limit. Paving on Plainfield Road (CR 831) extends from Interstate 77 east to Salt Fork State Park, and will cross Old 21 Road (CR 35) at North Salem.
  • Confirmation of benefit changes was signed by commissioners after Sun Life Financial terminated group term life insurance and long-term disability coverage due to a change in carriers. The insurance is available to county employees through a new provider.
  • Confirmation of benefit changes was signed by commissioners after Medical Mutual terminated group term life and accidental death insurance coverages due to a change in carriers. The insurance is available to county employees through a new provider.

Guernsey County commissioners meet each Monday and Wednesday in the County Administration Building, 627 Wheeling Ave. in downtown Cambridge.

Email: rstillion@daily-jeff.com.