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FD officials keep working on broadband

Partnership considered for service

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen The voters in Fort Dodge gave the city government the power to explore establishing a municipal broadband utility that may someday provide modems like the one seen here.

Since Fort Dodge voters in November gave their city government the power to move forward with a municipal broadband utility, officials have been working behind the scenes to develop a plan for that.

”We put together a vision of what we think will be the ideal kind of structure,” said City Manager David Fierke. ”We like the idea of a public-private partnership.”

He said the city will be putting forth a formal request for information, seeking data from companies that may be interested in working with the city on a broadband utility.

A detailed feasibility study will also have to be completed on any proposed new utility.

Any kind of construction to create a broadband utility is at least a couple years away, according to Fierke. Before that happens, residents will see the City Council discuss and vote on various utility-related measures.

And they will see the council work on a measure regulating utilities in city-owned rights of way. Fierke said that right of way ordinance is being developed in response to growth in the telecom and small cell industries rather than the potential municipal broadband utility. It will address underground conduits as well as what engineers and city planners call vertical infrastructure.

On Nov. 5, 2019, Fort Dodge voters approved the concept of a municipal utility with 71.6 percent of them voting yes.

Later that month, the council hired SmartSource Consulting, of Grimes, to help with the next stages of the process. The company will be paid $12,000 for that work.

SmartSource Consulting has been working on broadband issues for the city since June 2019. Its initial contract was for $22,500.

Broadband is a high capacity transmission technique over the internet which enables a 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 three megabits per second.

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