BVU board approves sale of Optinet broadband network for $50 mil.

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BRISTOL, VA (WJHL)- Bristol Virginia Utilities Authority is trying to sell its broadband network for 50 million dollars.

After about an hour of discussion behind closed doors Friday, the BVU board approved the sale of Optinet to Sunset Digital Communications Inc.

BVU’s board chairman Jim Clifton said Optinet has peaked in its ability to compete as a broadband service provider.

Clifton said quite a few players still have to approve the sale, the next is the Bristol City Council.

Sunset’s CEO Paul Elswick said with this deal the Duffield, VA based company would take over Optinet operations, lease the current office space, and keep Optinet’s 83 employees.

Elswick said current Optinet and Sunset customers should not expect to see an increase in their rates.

BVU’s CEO Don Bowman said this would get BVU, which also provides electric and sewer services, out of debt.

“It gets us really a little bit smaller, more focused and we just have three services that will be debt free, it’s my hope that we will see the ability to make substantial adjustments to electric rates or have flexibility with electric rates going forward,” Bowman said.

Currently, Sunset serves about 90,000 residential and commercial customers in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

“We’re going to start developing the rural broadband and expanding the footprint and the ability to service many more people,” Clifton said. “The thing we were most exciting about is going in to areas that were under-served and staying competitive in areas where we couldn’t be before.”

BVU’s Optinet currently serves 12,500 customers in Southwest Virginia and Bristol.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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