Large businesses - the hospital, government agencies, schools and others - could benefit with the arrival of LightSpeed Network (LSN) to the city of Brookings.

The city last week agreed to grant a five-year franchise agreement to LSN to provide computer-based communications services within the city.

The Portland-based communications firm provides broadband services to hospitals, schools and government agencies, among other large businesses that need to be networked together, said Robin Smith, legal and compliance director for LSN. She said the company provides a faster broadband service to customers.

The city would collect an annual fee 7 percent of LSN's gross revenue it collects from customers or $4,000, whichever is greater.

LSN currently provides service throughout all but southeastern Oregon, although service currently ends at Gold Beach to the north and Grants Pass to the east. It is served through Verizon in Gold Beach and Qwest Communications in Grants Pass.

"It's a business that's in expansion mode," said City Manager Gary Milliman. "So long as they apply with the standards of construction in rights-of-way and pay a fee for the use of public property. andhellip;"

It's part of the Telecommunication Act of 1996, signed into law by President Clinton.

"He said, 'We're going to have Internet, we're going to have broadband, and we're going to touch rural areas as well,'" Smith said. "We're going to figure out how to share the sandbox."

LSN has a tentative route to reach the "central office" of Charter, which is essentially a single location where all such services are based.

"It's the result of the break up and the "Baby Bells," Smith said of the ruling that broke up ATandT and opened the field to competition. "Rather than have a jillion offices, they just share."

The route, tentatively proposed to go from Verizon's cell tower at Shigh Creek to Ransom Avenue, down Second Street and toward Railroad Avenue, would be situated to most easily incorporate future customers. Some of the lines will be affixed to existing phone poles; others will be placed underground in city rights-of-ways.

The system could also help with economic development, particularly as the city and county work toward building up the airport or as health care opportunities expand.

"Better connectivity is definitely a creator of economic development," Smith said. "A lot of communities are pretty happy when they find out we're coming to town."

LSN hopes to begin construction at the end of March.