City of Red Wing

Fiber-to-the-Premise: Becoming a Reality

Wednesday, December 30 2009 12:00 AM
blairLaura Blair, Information Technology Director

On April 27, the City Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting the application by Hiawatha Broadband Communications,  Inc. (HBC) to obtain federal stimulus grant funding to construct and operate a high-speed, fiber-to-the-premises, broadband network in Red Wing.

Several years ago, the City of Red Wing identified many benefits of having a fiber-optic symmetrical network capable of up to one gigabit speeds which would operate on a network available to  residents  and  businesses. The City Council sees this investment as fundamental in maintaining and improving education, healthcare, government, and the economic vitality of Red Wing. A fiber-optic symmetrical network would also foster advancements telecommuting, telemedicine, and other applications currently not available in Red Wing with the existing level of service offered by incumbent telecommunications providers.

HBC, of Winona, is a local Internet Service Provider, cable television operator, and telephone service provider offering broadband  services to communities south of Red Wing. HBC has been recognized as a successful company that offers customers an alternative by building on to an existing telecommunications network. 

HBC intends to provide a dedicated network capacity by interconnecting all governmental facilities and educational facilities in  Red Wing, allowing for internal voice, video, and data services, and maintaining a strong local presence by including a local office with local employees.

A committee consisting of City Council Members and staff has been working on a fiber solution for the past few years to improve the lack of a sufficient telecommunications network in Red Wing. Fiber Now, an advocacy group led by Evan Brown, has also been meeting with city officials to help inform citizens and explore viable options for businesses and residents. Brown believes that, "The opportunity for Red Wing to work with HBC to build a true, high-speed network, is exactly what Fiber Now has been hoping for. This solution protects taxpayers while implementing a critical infrastructure that will bring jobs and economic opportunity to Red Wing. It will also provide improved services for local government and residents while lowering costs for users." 

In 2005, the City of Red Wing began researching solutions about delivering a true fiber-optic network to Red Wing. The City of Red Wing's guiding principles remain the same as four years ago: 

  • The need for a secure and robust network for all
  • A shared fiber-optic infrastructure for the School District and government facilities
  • Ultra high-speed and scalable broadband for Economic Development

With federal stimulus dollars and a partnership with HBC, this vision now offers promise of becoming a reality. 

UPDATE: While we are disappointed that the HBC application has not yet been approved by the federal government, we are confident it is still alive and in the process of being reviewed.  The application rules prevented HBC from applying for all of Red Wing, since the definition of broadband at 768K downstream and 200K upstream made Red Wing a "served" community.

HBC walked the community to determine where Internet take rates fell beneath 40 percent and used those areas as part of its application. HBC hopes to succeed in Phase One and also hopes that rules changes for Phase Two-Three (NTIA has now put phases two and three together) will allow them to apply for funds with which to build the rest of the community. HBC is committed to getting the entire job done in the short-term future.

In Minnesota there were nine applications for last-mile projects that totaled $87.66 million, HBC's request among them.  

For more information, please contact Information Technology Director Laura Blair at laura.blair@ci.red-wing.mn.us.

 

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