New internet service Metronet now available in Norfolk
Norfolk residents can now sign up for Metronet internet services, the first alternative to Cox Communications to enter the area after the city’s yearslong effort to attract other providers.
The neighborhoods with first dibs are Five Points, Sewells Gardens, Colonial Heights, Lincoln Park and Washington Park, according to Katie Custer, a spokesperson for Metronet.
Construction began in November 2021, and fiber optic installation is ongoing in neighborhoods between Princess Anne Road to the south and north to Willoughby Spit, and west of Interstate 64 and Interstate 564 to the Virginia Port Authority. The expansion of service to all of Norfolk will be complete around late summer 2024, said Craig Zimmerman, manager of government affairs for Metronet.
The Five Points area was chosen as the starting point for building out their coverage area because it’s roughly the geographic center of the city and service will expand “as you would imagine a circle growing from a central point” over the next two years, the company told The Virginian-Pilot last year.
Metronet touts its symmetrical internet — meaning data speed and file transfer rate are the same in both directions — which is available for both residential and business customers, as what sets it apart from other providers. They offer download speeds of one to two gigabits per second for residential customers, and up to 10 for business customers.
“We do feel that our architecture, the services that we provide, are really raising the bar on competitors such as the cable companies specifically and the traditional telephone companies,” Zimmerman said. “Folks get more and more devices in the home — the need for speed ... has been has just been incredible.”
Thursday was the first day residents could sign up for Metronet service and it was not immediately clear how many had done so. Residents in neighborhoods next in line for service will receive notice in the mail 30 days before construction begins in their neighborhood, and signage will begin appearing in the area.
Zimmerman said demand is “exceeding our expectations,” and that other localities in the region have expressed interest in bringing in Metronet, but declined to name them.
Rates range from $49.95 per month for the standard package of 100 megabits per second up to $109.95 per month for two gigabits per second for the ultimate package, according to Metronet’s website.
Norfolk residents have long complained about the lack of alternatives to Cox, and the city previously welcomed competition as a “win” for internet consumers.
Cox has invested $55 million in Hampton Roads over the last five years, including a recent upgrade to its services, and was the first to offer gigabit broadband in Hampton Roads, according to spokesperson for the company. Cox’s franchise in Norfolk is currently contracted through 2028.
“Among the reasons our customers choose us are our commitment to digital equity through our affordable internet options and our support of the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program as well as our longstanding presence and commitment to the communities in which we live and work,” said Margaret-Hunter Wade, a Cox spokesperson.
MetroNet is the largest independently owned provider of fiber optic internet in the country, according to a review of the company by CNET.com. The Indiana-based company was founded in 2005 and has primarily served Midwestern areas. It is now available in 16 states and 250 cities, according to Zimmerman.
To check if Metronet is available in your area, visit shop.metronet.com. For those not currently eligible for Metronet service, the company allows customers to pre-purchase a service package, Zimmerman said.
Gavin Stone, 757-712-4806, email@example.com