The project, which will result in an open access conduit network with Google Fiber as the first ISP operating, has seen some equipment delays (handholds and vaults) recently but remains on schedule. "The first conduit section in the city that'll be complete includes Valley High and the surrounding neighborhood," We Are Iowa writes. The first users are scheduled to be brought online later this year.
Fort Dodge City Council is moving forward with a plan for a long-awaited municipal telecommunications utility project, adopting several resolutions Monday night that will allow the city to enter into a future loan agreement of up to $40 million for a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) project.
“We need to get this up and running as fast as possible,” Councilman Dave Flattery said at the meeting.
The city currently depends largely on Mediacom and Frontier for broadband Internet access, both of which are among the lowest rated service providers by the American Consumer Satisfaction Survey.
Along with the future loan agreement, the council passed a resolution setting a timeline for bids on its Request for Quotes for the fiber network procurement materials. Proposals are due August 13th.
The council agreed to continue working with HR Green - an engineering firm that helps both private and public entities with a variety of engineering projects, including broadband, across the country - on the design and construction plans for the network.
The city will pay HRGreen $1.7 million spread over three phases of the project for its services, with hopes to start construction on the fiber-to-the-home project by the summer of 2022.
The meeting also included the proposed rates for potential services, starting at 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) symmetrical for $75/month and 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) symmetrical for $95/month for residential services. Businesses that sign up for symmetrical service from one of three tiers: 100 Mbps for $100/month, 250 Mbps for $250/month, and 1 Gbps for $500/month.
In 2019, a broadband utility was a top-rated need in the city’s...Read more
Michigan broadband package repeals law prohibiting state grants from going to government entities
Montana Legislature duplicates federal limitations against schools and librarie self-constructing networks
U.S. House Republicans bill would give USDA authority over rural broadband, in place of FCC
The State Scene
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive directive on Wednesday establishing the Michigan High-Speed Internet (MIHI) Office, a new state office tasked with developing a strategy to make high-speed Internet more accessible to Michiganders.
Gov. Whitmer has argued that more than $2.5 billion in potential economic benefit is left unrealized each year due to a lack of Internet access across the state. MIHI will be housed inside the state’s Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO). Speaking of the new office, LEO Acting Director Susan Corbin said, “We need to make major investments to support digital inclusion and this office will be focused on leveraging every dollar available through the American Recovery Plan and other federal programs,” reports WILX.
Michigan lawmakers are moving to answer Corbin’s call and recently proposed a $400 million one-time allocation of incoming federal relief funds to the newly created MIHI to work toward expanding access to broadband. With the funds, LEO would be tasked with maintaining a statewide broadband grant program, the Connecting Michigan Communities Broadband Grant.
The legislative package [pdf] would allow the state to “award grant money to a governmental entity or educational institution or an affiliate or a public/private partnership, to own, purchase, construct, operate, or maintain a communications network.” The legislation calls for prioritizing projects that will provide discounted Internet service to low-income households and projects that “demonstrate collaboration to achieve community investment and...Read more
Last summer we wrote about the slow but steady progress the city of Waterloo, Iowa (pop. 68,000) has been making towards improving local connectivity options for residents and businesses needing it. The city hired Magellan Advisors to perform a feasibility study for a possible Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network in the fall of 2019, but things have been mostly quiet since, with news outlets reporting on a reluctance to release the results of the study for fear of what incumbent cable provider Mediacom would might do to hinder its efforts.
These fears are not without reason, given the company’s previous efforts in the region to slow the specter of municipal competition with lawsuits, complaints, and propaganda efforts in its service territory.
When last we heard that the feasibility study would be released this spring, and while we still have not seen a copy, Waterloo must be encouraged. The city’s Telecommunications Board of Trustees established a resident-led municipal broadband utility committee on January 27th, giving the group the charge of tackling “risk mitigation, community marketing, digital infrastructure and finance and business strategy” for a future network.
When the announcement was made, Board Chair Andy Van Fleet said the work would serve as "critical pillars to move this project forward successfully when the time is right to turn the plan into actionable items."
Then, in early April...Read more
Nebraska Senate rejects amendment supporting municipal broadband in spending plan
Michigan Governor vetoes bill granting private ISPs property tax exemptions
Montana, Iowa and Maine channel Rescue Plan funds towards new broadband grant initiatives
The State Scene
The Nebraska Senate approved a plan to spend $40 million over the next two years on expanding rural access to high-speed Internet by a unanimous vote on Tuesday, but only after an amendment to L.B. 388 that would have allowed municipalities to offer retail broadband services was rejected.
State Sen. Justin Wayne introduced the amendment, saying that “broadband should be considered a critical infrastructure need and that private telecommunications companies have not stepped up to serve the whole state,” the Lincoln Journal Star reports.
Wayne urged Nebraska Senators “to look to Nebraska's history of public power as a model, as well as to the example of other states that are allowing cities to offer broadband.” The amendment ultimately failed by a vote of 20-24. Wayne assured fellow Senators that he will reintroduce the amendment in the future.
The bill marked the first time the Nebraska Legislature has suggested using state tax dollars to fund broadband deployment. As it was submitted to Gov. Pete Ricketts for his signature, the bill would annually allocate, until funds run out, $20 million in grants to projects that increase access to high-speed broadband in unserved regions of Nebraska. It would prioritize projects in regions which lack access to Internet service with speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download/3 Mbps upload. Grant recipients would be required to deploy networks capable of providing service of at least 100/100 Mbps within 18 months.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed H.B. 4210 on April 14, a bill which would have granted...Read more
At the beginning of July 2020, the city of West Des Moines, Iowa announced that they were going to build a citywide, open access conduit system connecting every home, business, government building, and community anchor institution, with Google Fiber to come in right after to pull fiber and light up a network to bring service to the community.
Construction on the project has now begun "in [the] area bounded by the West Mixmaster, Ashworth Road and 22nd Street," the first of six phases.
Update: The Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN) notes that it looks like SSB 1184 is dead, having been shelved in committee yesterday. They say the "bill was briefly discussed by a subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee on February 16th, but postponed 'indefinitely.'"
Less than a year after an attempt to hamstring municipal broadband in Iowa, local opponents are at it again. If you’ve been around the block, Senate Study Bill 1184 will look remarkably similar to SSB 3009 from last January 2020, and that’s because it’s nearly identical.
Like its last incarnation, SSB 1184 threatens the viability of any new municipal broadband effort by placing draconian financial barriers in the way, and, if passed, handcuffs existing networks as well as those under construction. Though there are no public fingerprints on the bill, the word around the capitol is that Mediacom is behind it. Among its provisions are those that would:
- Prohibit cities and towns from issuing loans from the general or reserve fund or an existing electric utility to a broadband division at an interest rate lower than the prevailing market rate set by private financing institutions.
- Prohibit government entities from forgiving debt related to the construction or operation of a telecommunications system.
- Set a maximum interest rate at which a municipal broadband utility could borrow to finance a new network, cutting off funding avenues
- Disallow existing municipal networks from responding to the market in setting rates.
- Prevent municipal network from bundling multiple city services in single transactions.
Individually, any of these conditions would represent a significant win for a provider looking to restrict competition with cities interested in building Internet infrastructure; collectively, they would be a gigantic step backwards in a state that ranks...Read more
As reported by KCHA news, Charles City's progress on municipal broadband has been halted by the covid 19 pandemic and consideration of budget priorities in the coming year.
In Iowa, New Hampton Municipal Utilities has begun site surveys and beta signups for their Fiber-to-the-Home network, with the first users getting access in the next few weeks.
In July we wrote about West Des Moines’ announcement that it would build an open access citywide conduit system to spur broadband infrastructure investment, and how Google Fiber became the Iowa city’s first partner.
In this episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, Christopher is joined by Jamie Letzring, Deputy City Manager for West Des Moines, Iowa, and Dave Lyons, a consultant with the city, to discuss in more detail how things unfolded behind the scenes.
Together, the group digs into the how West Des Moines started with a long-term vision—called West Des Moines 2036—that, in part, brought local leaders together to discuss universal high-speed Internet access as a path to equity, economic vitality, and citizen engagement. Jamie and Dave share the challenges that came with a rapidly congesting right of way (ROW) landscape, and how that ultimately led to the decision to commit to a citywide conduit model that has attracted Google Fiber. Finally, Chris, Jamie, and Dave talk about what the citywide conduit system will do for business development and city residents once it’s complete.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show; please e-mail us or leave a comment below.
Read the transcript for this episode.
This show is 40 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.
Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes...Read more