Superior’s fiber optic network design progresses – Superior Telegram
SUPERIOR – The design phase of the plan to build a citywide fiber optic network is 50% complete, John Honker of Magellan LLC told the Communications and Information Technology Committee of the city during its meeting on Monday 27 June.
In March, the city council hired Magellan LLC to verify the feasibility of the Connect Superior project; do the high-level design; develop a business plan; acquire customers for the network; and research Internet service providers and grants to help pay for the project. Honker said the design phase is expected to be completed in August. Work continues on the business and implementation plan, which is 20% complete, he said.
The city is ahead of the game from Honker’s perspective.
“You’ve done a great job throughout the planning phases to strengthen the foundation, and that’s really important because the leadership team around the table is what’s going to help drive this project and make it successful. for the city,” he said. said.
Next steps include seeking grants to help fund the project, Honker said, as well as developing a long-term financial and sales plan.
“We’re just seeing massive money pouring into broadband from different sources, and we’re going to help you develop a funding strategy for that,” Honker told the committee.
The plan is to stack the grants, backing new grants with those that have already been won, he said.
“Our goal is to set, you know, bring in that much money to help cover debt service costs, because that will give you a lot more flexibility in pricing the service,” Honker said.
The city has already earmarked $5 million in US federal Rescue Plan Act funds for the project. Honker mentioned possible state and federal sources of grant funding, including the Wisconsin Broadband Office of the Public Service Commission.
Building expectations is an important part of the plan, along with marketing strategies to engage the community and get people to sign up for internet service in the city. Citizens want to see results, Honker said, but building a network takes time.
“We want to start cultivating support,” Honker said.
In other business, the committee was told the city will be moving to a new server, Microsoft Office 365. The current exchange server is “going the way of the dodo,” according to CIO Dan Shea. Microsoft will no longer support the aging platform with new features, bug fixes, security patches, etc. The change will give users the ability to use the product on up to five devices without needing a separate license for each, Shea said. There is an additional cost for the new server, but he said it will be absorbed into the department’s budget.
2022 State Broadband Grants Skip Northern Wisconsin
Days before the city is to discuss its broadband plans, three proposed internet expansion projects in Douglas County were not funded through the INHA’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program. State. Earlier this month, the amount of money available for grants was increased to $125 million by the Public Service Commission in the face of record demand.
Local projects seeking funding under the program would have expanded internet access to approximately 109 businesses and nearly 4,000 residential locations in Gordon, Solon Springs, Bennett, Hawthorne, South Range, the Town of Superior, Wentworth and the village of Poplar. None of them received funding.
A PSC map of projects that received grants in 2022 revealed that none of the state’s four northernmost counties – Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron – received grants this cycle, despite the increase. financing.
The state has been providing grants for the Broadband Expansion Program since 2014. Of the 434 grants that have been awarded, only three projects in Douglas County have been funded. A broadband expansion project in the Solon Springs and Gordon area received a grant of nearly $327,000 in 2021 and projects in the cities of Cloverland and Amnicon received grants in 2020, according to the PSC .