Nearly two years ago, Village officials signed an agreement with a rival to Century Link, Unite Private Networks (UPN), which was supposed to offer better, cheaper broadband service to Corrales businesses. So far, no businesses here have taken UPN up on the offer. In fact, it’s not clear the offer was ever actually extended.
In June 2018, a UPN representative and its attorney drew up a franchise agreement that would allow the 20 year old Kansas City firm to use the Village’s right-of-way along Corrales Road to lay fiber cable in the road shoulder to reach Corrales Elementary School.
UPN has a contract with Albuquerque Public Schools to connect its schools to the internet with high-speed broadband service. That was accomplished in Corrales, but since then, the only other client UPN has added is the ARCA La Paloma facility on East La Entrada.
Contacted by Corrales Comment June 11, the firm’s regional sales director, Josanne Cossio, explained “We have fiber to an ARCA location and Corrales Elementary. We have spoken to some business folks, but no takers thus far. We would love to change that.”
She did not reply to q uestions about the cost and reliability of such service. In presentations to the mayor and Village Council in summer 2018, UPN assured that better, more affordable broadband service would be available to all businesses in Corrales’s commercial district. UPN does not provide service to residences.
“UPN provides high bandwidth, fiber-based communications network services to schools, governments, carriers, data centers, hospitals and enterprise business customers across a 22 state service area,” the company’s web site explains. “Service offerings include dark and lit fiber, private line, metro optical ethernet, internet access, data center services and other customized solutions.”
The franchise agreement signed with the Village of Corrales included a provision that UPN would pay the Village a fee of four percent of its annual gross revenues from cust omers here, but not less than $6,000 a year. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVII No.12 August 25, 2018 “Franchise Approved For Century Link Rival.”)
The franchise agreement with the Village will continue through mid-2023. It was essentially written by an attorney for Unite Private Networks LLC (UPN). But at the council meeting, Councillor George Wright wanted it changed to require that UPN provide the Village Office with free high-speed internet access.
But some councillors balked at that idea, because imposition of that demand significantly altered the deal. Councillor Dave Dornburg objected to inserting that requirement for franchise approval at this stage; he made a motion to postpone approval of the franchise until the Village negotiated that with UPN.
His motion to postpone a vote on Ordinance 18-005 regarding the franchise failed.
Then Dornburg joined all the other councillors in voting to approve the ordinance as written, while urging the mayor to try to persuade UPN to provide free high-speed internet access for the Village Office. That approach, councillors said, would give the firm “the opportunity to demonstrate their stated intention to be of assistance to the community.”
Councillors were very receptive to a presentation by the firm’s representatives June 12, 2018 especially upon hearing that more revenue would likely flow to the Village, and with fewer hassles from Century Link.
Then-Village Administrator Suanne Derr reported that more fees might be coming. “The Village anticipates entering into future franchise agreements with at least two other companies who want to use Village right-of-way for their optic or network expansions,” she wrote in her report to the mayor and councillors.
Winter told the mayor and council in June that UPN will comply fully with terms of its franchise. Without going into details, Village officials indicated they have had ongoing disputes with Century Link.
Winter pointed out that the more business customers UPN takes away from Century Link, the more revenue will flow to the Village of Corrales. The company said it expects to soon have 500 miles of fiber network encompassing the entire metropolitan area.