An ordinance to allow the city to settle disputes with MAW Communications and give the city full control of current and future fiber-optic broadband networks was presented at the Lancaster City Council meeting Tuesday night.
Officials referred to the current effort as the “unwinding” of the 2014 agreement with Reading-based MAW Communications to install a citywide fiber-optic network.
Council will take action on the issue at its Feb. 23 meeting. Essentially, the ordinance amends two 2017 ordinances that prescribe how funds can be spent on MAW-related operations. The new ordinance would allow those funds to be spent to settle disputes with MAW now and plan for the future network. About $1.33 million dollars remains in those accounts.
“We are essentially now an (internet service provider),” said city business administrator Patrick Hopkins, referring to the approximately 200 customers of LanCity Connect, which is one part of the network. City officials indicated the name LanCity Connect might change but current customers wouldn’t experience interruption in service.
Under a tentative settlement agreement made public at council’s Feb. 1 meeting, the city would get full control of the LanCity Connect and all fiber-optic infrastructure as well as future uses, revenues and expenses. In exchange, the city will forgive the balance of a $1.5 million loan to MAW and will pay MAW $1.2 million.
City officials hope to find a private sector partner to manage the communications network as opposed to have the city own and operate it all on its own.
Mayor Danene Sorace said there had been discussion about autonomous ownership, but it was “better economy of scale” if it were outsourced so that the city wasn’t “expanding the scope of government and the number of employees that we have but still be able to provide the service to our residents.”