March 5, 2021

New internet provider moving to Warrenton, promises high speeds

A new internet service provider based in Jonesburg plans to bring its high-speed fiber optic network to Warrenton.

Representatives of Gateway Fiber, a company founded in 2019, unveiled plans for their expansion into Warrenton during a Nov. 17 meeting with the city’s board of aldermen.

“We’re still in our growth stage, and we’re eyeing additional markets for expansion,” said John Meyer with Gateway Fiber. “We consider Warrenton a very attractive place to bring fiber broadband.”

Gateway Fiber currently serves the areas of Troy, Moscow Mills, Winfield and Hawk Point. The company was founded in partnership with Sellenriek Construction in Jonesburg, Meyer said.

“Fiber is a much better product than standard telephone company or cable offerings, from a service perspective,” Meyer explained. “What we’re trying to do is come in with a very competitive product, at a competitive price, and deliver something that can positively impact the community.”

Fiber optic cables send signals using light, rather than electricity, offering higher performance and capacity.

The company hopes to begin laying lines in January 2021 and start offering services within the first quarter of that year, Meyer said. The cost of the internet service to customers will be based on the internet speed they sign up for — $65, $75 or $90 per month, for speeds comparable or better than the fastest internet offerings available.

Gateway Fiber co-founder and President Heath Sellenriek said the clearest benefit of fiber over the phone and cable lines currently providing internet here is the capacity of data that can be transfered at once.

“Scientists have never maxed out the capabilities of fiber optics. It’s always been (limited by) the electronics at both ends,” Sellenriek commented. “It’s as future-proof of a network as you can get.”

Sellenriek said fiber lines are also necessary for 5G wireless internet communications.

To bring their services to Warrenton, Sellenriek said Gateway Fiber needs clearance to build within the city’s utility right-of-ways, which is why they met with Warrenton aldermen on Nov. 17. Sellenriek said the expansion is entirely privately funded.

City Administrator Terri Thorn recommended the board of aldermen require a legal agreement with Gateway Fiber to build within the city’s right-of-ways, including coordination with Warrenton’s public works department.

“There may be places we’re aware we may have future construction, and obviously we don’t want to have to move a fiber optic line,” Thorn commented.

Aldermen agreed with that assessment.

“I think competition’s great, and I certainly think we should seriously look at this. ... I just want to make sure we do it right,” said Ward 2 Alderman Gary Auch.

“We need to move forward on it quickly for future residential developments and our economic development. These people are looking for these kinds of services,” said Ward 1 Alderman Cheryl Dyer. “I think it’s really important to move forward on this.”