Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Butler fiber-optic link OK comes too late


Middletown won't get expansion as schools go elsewhere for connections

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Butler County's fiber-optic network won't be expanded soon in Middletown, despite a favorable ruling by Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.

In response to a request from Butler County Prosecutor Robin Piper, Petro ruled that county commissioners do have authority to provide financing for a private corporation to build telecommunications facilities.

At question was a July decision by county commissioners to loan $112,000 to I-Fiber in Middletown to connect schools and businesses to the county's 100-mile system.

However, by the time commissioners received the ruling last month, the schools and Cincinnati Bell had moved ahead with plans that didn't require the county fiber connection.

Cincinnati Bell will begin offering one-way local calling from Middletown to Greater Cincinnati and Dayton in early March. Middletown Schools will use Time Warner Cable's fiber network to link its buildings, says Gary Canterbury, schools' technology director.

"Cincinnati Bell doesn't need us. The schools don't need us. We'll move forward with a variety of other things, but we won't build in Middletown," says Dennis Nichols, who manages the fiber-optic network project for the county.

Middletown Schools will save $322,400 over 21/2 years by going with Time Warner, Canterbury says.

E-mail jkiesewetter@enquirer.com




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