Last month, Orange City Council voted to move forward in approving a franchise agreement with Firefly Fiber Broadband to provide Internet in the City of Orange.
The local governing body has elected to take no further action with respect to membership in Fiberylnc, supported by the Orange County Broadband Authority and operated by Orange County.
Two months ago, the city solicited bids to award broadband franchise contracts and the two local providers were the only applicants. City attorney Catherine Lea reviewed the submissions received from the companies.
Councilor Donna Waugh Robinson moved a motion to authorize the city to sign a non-exclusive 20-year franchise agreement with Firefly Fiber Broadband for fiber broadband infrastructure in public rights-of-way.
Councilman Elliot Fox seconded the motion which passed 3-1 with Deputy Mayor Rick Sherman opposed and Councilman Tim Bosford abstained due to the fact that his wife is employed by Fiberlync.
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The Orange-based company already has established infrastructure in the city, including connections to county offices and schools, but city council members were not happy with Fiberlync’s proposal.
Firefly Fiber Broadband is a fiber-to-the-home broadband Internet service provider backed by Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and based in Lovingston.
When the city council issued a tender for a potential broadband provider for the city, a model franchise agreement was attached outlining several terms and contingencies to be addressed in bidding.
Potential broadband providers were not required to agree to the model franchise agreement, but Fiberlync did not address more than a dozen of the city’s suggested considerations for a bid submission, Lea said.
Firefly’s proposal was “a virtually word-for-word use of the template agreement provided,” she said. Furthermore, Fiberlync’s proposal did not indicate the installation areas.
“Fiberlync’s documentation is silent on any commitment to installing a citywide fiber broadband network, suggesting that the plan is to provide service only in areas where Fiberlync has already installed,” said Leah. “Nothing in this document precludes [Fiberlync] to expand if they got a franchise,” she continued. “But they’re not doing anything to commit to expanding to provide services all over the city.”
Firefly offers speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 1000 Mbps, prices from $79.99/month to $249.99/month for business plans and $49.99/month to $79.99/month for plans residential. The franchise agreement stipulates that Firefly Fiber Broadband begins installation within six months and completes all installations within two years.
Fiberlync, meanwhile, has already connected 2,500 addresses to broadband since its inception in April 2021.