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Cable provider will be tuned out in Rosemount

The city of Rosemount had hopes a citywide fiber optic system would help draw businesses to town. It probably would have if it had ever been built. But after more than eight years of failed contracts with Fiber to the Home Communications the city council decided this week enough was enough.

The council voted to revoke the local company's franchise effective Oct. 19. The company acknowledged its violation of the franchise conditions and waived its right to a public hearing.

FTTH provides Internet, telephone and cable television services to several areas in Rosemount, including the Evermoor development where it connects to 1,000 homes.

City administrator Dwight Johnson said the city's franchise only applies to cable television services. Telephone and Internet services are regulated by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

FTTH attorney Clyde Ahlquist said the company could not meet the conditions of the franchise agreement due to economic reasons. He then asked the council to table the item to allow the company a chance to seek a buyer.

Additionally, FTTH manager Kevin Cahill apologized to the council, saying he wished things had gone differently. He also asked the council to give the company time to sell so it might be able to continue providing services.

"Whatever happens it is the intention of FTTH to cooperate with the city," Cahill said before the council voted.

Obviously fed up, mayor Bill Droste said he did not think the company should get any more time. He also expressed disappointment the company hadn't had more contact with the city about its troubles.

The council voted unanimously to revoke the franchise agreement Oct. 19. The council gave FTTH 90 days so it can notify customers to allow them time to find other services. The time frame also gives FTTH time to seek a buyer for the company.

City attorney Charlie LeFevere told the council that if FTTH found a buyer within the 90 days the council could rescind its decision.

FTTH, which is owned by Rudder Capital Communications, was supposed to provide fiber optic service throughout the city. The city franchised with FTTH in 2001. Over the years since, the city and FTTH have renegotiated the terms of the agreement several times. The last contract had FTTH building out the first of its coverage areas by Dec. 31, 2008 which it missed.

Johnson said the city council will continue to look at ways of expanding fiber optic connectivity in the city. He said having fiber provides economic development abilities and could be a boon for the city.