Planet Networks expects to offer internet and phone service throughout Sussex County by the end of 2024, the company’s chief executive told the Sussex County Board of Commissioners on Feb. 8.
“We continue to accelerate. In the beginning, it was very slow, and now we’re rolling at a much, much faster pace,” said Robert Boyle, owner and founder of Planet Networks.
The company has been placing fiber in various towns for almost four years.
In April alone, it expects to spend $5 million. “It’s insanely expensive.”
However, investors are interested in the industry so Planet Networks has received loans from banks and other financial institutions. “We’re able to continue building and growing very quickly.”
The company focused on the high-density areas first but also is bringing fiber to more rural areas, Boyle said.
Service is available to almost every address in Newton, Andover Borough, Frankford and Wantage now. Half to three-quarters of Sparta is covered as is 60 percent to 70 percent of Andover Township.
The company will have service to every address in Fredon and Franklin by the end of April or May and in Sussex by early summer. Hamburg and Ogdensburg will be done soon, and work continues in Byram, Green and Stillwater.
Vernon has particular problems that need to be resolved, Boyle noted.
The company will not provide service to Walpack because it has few residents and most of the land is owned by the state.
Planet Networks attaches its fiber to poles that are owned by Verizon, CenturyLink and power companies. “By law, they have to give us access but they don’t have to make it easy,” he said.
The company, based in Newton, has about 104 employees, most of whom live in Sussex County. The work force is expected to double by the end of this year.
Planet Networks is expanding to the Hudson Valley, eastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, Boyle said.
“Sussex County’s home and we’re making sure we take care of everybody here first before we go too far astray.”
Hooking up a home or business is free and the prices are competitive, he pointed out. The network is super reliable, “everything’s brand-new, it’s all fiber, fast uploads, fast downloads.”
While New Jersey prohibits monopolies, there are some “natural monopolies,” especially in cable television because of the high cost to build a network and the small profit margin with content-makers raising prices.
Planet Networks focus on internet service, which has lower operational costs.
The company offers internet and phone service and is working on providing a television service soon, Boyle said.
”At the end of the day, what we’re doing is we’re bringing choices to Sussex County. And we’re bringing a really good choice that most people in the rest of the country don’t have,” he said, referring to the speed of Planet Networks’ service.
He noted that the move to remote work during the pandemic made fast internet service even more important to residents.
Businesses also need good connections, he added. “People who are looking to establish businesses or looking to move, they can move to Sussex County because now we have better connectivity than most of the other counties around. And that’s huge.”
“We continue to accelerate. In the beginning, it was very slow, and now we’re rolling at a much, much faster pace.” - Robert Boyle, owner and founder of Planet Networks