Minet seeks to improve

Company needs upgrades to system as it seeks to expand

INDEPENDENCE — Monmouth Independence Networks has seen increased demand on its bandwidth with the frequent use of more devices and streaming of data, said PJ Armstrong, Minet’s technology manager, at the Minet board of directors meeting on Thursday.

“Last calendar year, we were probably hitting six gigabits of traffic, something like that,” Armstrong said. “What we’ve found, as students have returned and we’ve bumped those data rates, we’re hitting our six-gig cap, so what we’ve found is a possible issue with our core router. We’ve been working with LS Networks, our upstream provider.”

The issue isn’t in the service itself, said executive director Don Patten, but rather with equipment.

“We purchase the ability to provide up to 10 gigs,” he said. “We’re pulling all of six gigs, but we can’t seem to pull anymore, even though we have the ability to pull the full 10. We have some limitation that had not been previously identified in our systems. Now that we’re aware of it, we’re trying to correct it.”

Board member Mike Lodge asked if Minet customers were receiving throttled service — meaning that the more people are online, the slower the internet service is.

“Essentially, we are throttling ourselves,” Patten said. “We’re not intending to do that. It’s our equipment.”

The issue impacts both speed and capacity, Armstrong said, and upgrades to routers should improve the situation.

The passive optical network also needs upgrading, Armstrong said.

“We have engaged an outside consultant to guide us in the process of an upgrade,” he said. “We’re having discussions with multiple vendors. It’s expensive, but we have discovered it may be 20 to 30 percent less cost than we thought it would be.”

Patten said as Minet looks to expand services to customers outside the boundaries of Monmouth and Independence, the company needs to look at upgrading through used equipment.

The talk of expanding Minet’s boundaries came up again during a review of the intergovernmental agreement that governs the company, signed by councils from both Monmouth and Independence to create Minet in 2004.

Some of the language in the IGA was outdated, board chair Scott McClure said, and needed to be updated.

Mark Theones, Minet’s finance officer, said he wanted more definition in the IGA — the sole governing document of Minet — about what the term “surplus” means.

McClure said that surplus is defined by revenue after the initial startup debt is recovered and operational expenses were covered.

“That would be fine if you weren’t working with a company with growth, but with Minet, moving forward into the city of Jefferson, there’s going to have to be upfront capital required, and it’s not a small amount,” Theones said. “Minet’s not going to be able to go into these business ventures without upfront capital.”

Board member David Ritchey pointed out that the board of directors was the one who would declare what was surplus, according to the language of the IGA.

The board approved the changes to the agreement, which will go before both city councils in Monmouth and Independence to be approved before becoming final.

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