FD looks for more broadband

Consultant’s study due in September

Fort Dodge officials are considering how to increase access to broadband communication in the city, and having the local government set up a new utility to provide that service is apparently an option.

A study commissioned by the City Council Monday will provide data and cost estimates for building a system, which could be done by the city or a private company.

“Fort Dodge has a situation in which you’re an island of copper in a sea of fiber to the home,” Curtis Dean, president of SmartSource Consulting in Grimes, told the City Council Monday. He was comparing copper wires to fiberoptic cables.

According to Dean, several telephone cooperatives serving nearby rural areas have made investments in broadband communications.

The result, he said, is that someone living on a farm outside Callendar may have service “superior to what people in Fort Dodge have access to.”

Broadband is a high-capacity transmission technique over the internet which enables a large number of messages to be transmitted at the same time. The Federal Communications Commission defines broadband as having a download speed of 25 megabits per second and an upload speed of 3 megabits per second.

The council on Monday hired SmartSource Consulting to prepare a broadband feasibility study for the community at a cost of $22,500. The study will be submitted to the council by the end of September.

Dean said people will be able to learn about the study and provide input via a web site and Facebook page, and perhaps at public meetings.

”We really want to get as much feedback as we can,” he said.

Councilman Terry Moehnke said signing up for any potential city broadband service would be purely voluntary. He said people who don’t think they need the service would not be required to sign up for it.

When asked by Councilman Kim Alstott if having better broadband service would help attract businesses to Fort Dodge, Dean replied that “nobody has really good statistics” on that.

Dean did say that fiber optic lines that would be the basis of a broadband system aren’t likely to become obsolete.

“That technology has a very long shelf life,” he said.


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