Chanute has been exploring available options for a citywide FTTH network. In addition to offering residential service, city leaders want to expand the business use of its municipal fiber network. A limited number of businesses currently join schools, government, and utilities on the fiber infrastructure.
The community incrementally built a fiber network to serve government, utilities, and schools with no borrowing or bonding. The broadband utility continues to expand and uses WiMAX for public safety and to connect several businesses. For the full story of this central Kansas community, download our case study Chanute’s Gig: One Rural Kansas Community’s Tradition of Innovation Led to a Gigabit and Ubiquitous Wireless Coverage.
As we reported previously, the City Council began reviewing potential scenarios to bring fiber to each premise. The Wichita Eagle reported that Utilities Director Larry Gates recently presented price and speed estimates to a City Council study session:
When complete, the city system will offer service at a speed of one gigabit per second.
City residents will pay $40 a month; it will cost $50 outside the city limits and $75 for businesses.
To put that in perspective, Chanute will offer the same ultra-fast connection speed as the Google Fiber system being rolled out across the Kansas City metropolitan area, but 42 percent cheaper than Google’s $70-a-month charge.
Or, to use another comparison, Chanute’s fiber-to-home system will be 14 times faster and cost 60 percent less than the best Internet service the town’s residents can get today.
Wow! And recall that this would not be possible if the cable lobbyists had their way earlier this year in the Kansas legislature. Kansas briefly considered making it impossible for communities to build their own networks and will likely take up the matter again next year.
We contacted Gates, who elaborated on Chanute's plan. The City will provide Internet only; a third party provider would use the network to offer voice and video. The service area will include the Utilities' three mile territory outside of the city limits.
The community is especially interested in bringing access to unserved students in the community and to patients who need access to telehealth from home. Seventeen percent of area students cannot afford or do not have access to the Internet from home. USD 413 and Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center are each working with Chanute Utilities to develop solutions using the muncipal network.
Businesses have expressed their frustration with service from the existing cable and DSL service on many occasions. The City's network serves a limited number of commercial clients and others have asked to be connected. City Commissioner Martha McCoy is also a local business owner; she owns and operates a downtown antique and home-decor business. She told the Eagle:
“What I have today (at home), I can hardly ever get on,” she said. “And then I watch the ads they have on TV: Oh, we have super streaming and everything. It just isn’t happening here.”
The service at her business is “better, but it’s still not good,” she said. “It still knocks me off, so I still get upset with that. I have a lot of work to do and I don’t have time to wait.”
The Eagle reports that community leaders supported the initiative at the study session. The City Council formerly votes on June 9th whether to move forward.