Decatur City Manager Andrea Arnold. Bill Banks file photo for the AJC

Decatur, Comcast resolve difference over city’s fiber network

During this week’s regular meeting, Decatur commissioners approved a contract with Comcast Cable to serve as interim provider while the city gets its new fiber optic network built. Decatur will pay $12,500 monthly for 24 months, far less than an amount previously quoted by Comcast.

Earlier this month Decatur selected Network Cabling Infrastructures of Duluth to construct the new network that will cover 14 city and 10 school sites and cost about $2 million.

Media One, an earlier incarnation of Comcast, built the city’s current (and original) network in 1999, which the city will now continue using until the new network launches.

But late last year Comcast claimed the city had received 10 years of services without paying. Andy Macke, vice president of external affairs for Comcast, later told the AJC that the city has “gotten over a million dollars of benefits at no charge.”

Comcast informed the city it would decommission the current network unless the city began paying, according to City Manger Andrea Arnold, a monthly fee of $30,000.

In the end, that figure was cut by more than half.

“We talked, we negotiated, we reached a mutually agreeable solution,” Arnold said this week. “This allows for a seamless transition. There were other service providers we could’ve used [during the interim], but we still would’ve had to settle with Comcast.”

Arnold anticipates network construction taking 12-14 months, though she acknowledged it could take longer. The 24-month interim agreement with Comcast “gives us some breathing room,” she added.

During the interim only the six original sites covered by the current network will receive service: City Hall, the police station, both fire stations, the Decatur Recreation Center and Public Works.

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