TRAVERSE CITY — Fiber-optic broadband could be coming to 2,200 Traverse City Light & Power customers in May, and now the service has a name and a logo.
The city-owned utility also is moving toward establishing prices for the service. Utility board members on Tuesday voted to set a March 10 hearing for TCLP fiber’s monthly rates.
Fujitsu Network Communications, the company TCL&P hired to design and operate the network, suggested rates from $59.99 per month for residential customers to $149.99 a month for commercial customers. Those rates would buy download and upload speeds of 200 megabits per second residential; one gigabit per second commercial.
Scott Menhart, TCL&P chief information technology officer, said 200 megabits per second is twice as fast as what most area commercial providers offer in their base package, and they typically offer upload speeds of just 10 megabits per second.
The higher upload speed will matter for customers as people put more and more devices online, Fujitsu Network Communications broadband operations head Robert Worden said. He cited a household average of 11 devices — and said that’s bound to rise, factoring in smartphones, security services with streaming doorbell cameras and smart TVs boasting ever-higher resolutions.
“Does everybody need that every minute of every day? No, but are they going to enjoy it when they’ve got it? You bet, because it’s going to be on, it’s going to be available and it’s going to have all the capacity you need,” he said.
Utility board member Pat McGuire said the price might be a bit high for people like him who are satisfied with the speeds they have. He wondered if prices could be lowered on the residential end then bumped up slightly on the commercial end.
Board President John Taylor said he’d like to see a fourth option for those who don’t need more speed but want to pay less.
Menhart said the prices reflect anticipated sign-up rates for the first phase of the utility’s fiber-to-the-premises project. It’s a smaller set of TCL&P’s customer base, so prices could go down if and when the board expands the network to the rest of the utility’s customer base.
Amy Shamroe, a utility board member, said the board can always lower rates if it proves feasible — Paul Heiberger, another board member, said the utility’s charter requires the board to lower rates if they’re higher than necessary.
The board agreed to the proposed name TCLP fiber. Fujitsu Network Communications Marketing Lead Lori Butler said the name draws on the brand recognition the utility already has, while differentiating the new enterprise. The tagline “Your Community Network” emphasizes the public utility’s mission and the fact that it’s a community-owned network, she said.
Butler said the proposed logo also draws on the familiar, adding the word “fiber” and the tagline to the existing network, plus a strand of fiber optic cable. She showed the board a few proposed color combinations, and they ultimately gravitated toward a blue and yellow design similar to the existing logo, with a darker blue added as an accent.
Butler also presented an overview of a marketing tactical plan for now until May, when the utility hopes to launch the first phase. Those included steps like approving the service offerings, a social media campaign, setting up a website and various advertising and outreach efforts.