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Published on and the Akron Beacon Journal on August 1, 2016

By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer

FAIRLAWN: The city is beginning the construction phase in neighborhoods next week for its new internet service.

Residents can already start signing up for the service, even though connections may take up to a year. The high-speed broadband service will be available citywide by the end of 2017.

There are potentially 3,800 customers: 800 businesses and 3,000 residents. Fairlawn and joint economic development district residents are eligible for the service. The Akron-Bath-Fairlawn JEDD includes everything north of state Route 18 all the way to Embassy.

“We’re asking people to sign up early because it helps with the construction,” said Ernie Staten, Fairlawn’s deputy public service director. “If we know someone wants to be connected, we can do it while we’re on the road during the construction process rather than going back to do it.”

There are no payments or fees until the FairlawnGig service begins. The $125 installation fee is waived, and no decision has to be made yet on the type of service, which ranges from 30 to 1,000 Mbps.

“If you sign up you will get an online newsletter explaining things every two weeks, and we will make follow-up phone calls during the construction process even after we install,” Staten said. “In the newsletter there will also be videos.”

He said the city is giving free demos inside the service department starting this week between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“We’ll explain everything we can about the service,” Staten said. “No need to call; just show up and we’ll start the tutoring.”

So far the service is available in the buildings at City Hall campus, which includes the Police and Fire departments, the service department, community center and the Bicentennial Park.

The first business customers were two local hotels, the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn hotel and the DoubleTree by Hilton Akron/Fairlawn hotel, just in time for guests for the recent Republican National Convention. The gigabit service was installed three days before the RNC.

“It came down to the wire, but the city got it up and running, and it’s working great,” said Rennick Andreoli, part owner and manager of the hotels. “The service is significantly faster, warp speed. The guests are extremely pleased. It’s a great benefit and is forward thinking on the city’s part.”

Andreoli, who offers free internet service to guests, said guests tolerate some things like not enough hot water, but internet problems set off a series of complaints.

“Guests are very vocal about their internet,” he said. “So far we haven’t had any complaints.”

Leigh Sandy, hired by the city to oversee the project, said the first phase of the construction will be in the east and west neighborhoods.

“We’re hoping to have four neighborhoods completed by the end of this year,” he said.

The $10 million FairlawnGig network will be built by Fujitsu Network Communications of Texas.

The monthly residential service cost ranges from $30 to $75, depending on the plan selected. Business internet service ranges from $90 to $500 per month.