City of Red Wing

Red Wing Welcomes Hiawatha Broadband Communications (HBC) and Fiber to the Home

Friday, September 3 2010 12:00 AM

Recently Gary Evans of HBC announced that HBC is moving forward to provide full fiber to the premise service in Red Wing.  The next few paragraphs will begin to explain just who HBC is, what they provide and what that means to Red Wing’s citizens and businesses. 

What is HBC? 

HBC is a Southeast MN company with home offices in Winona.  The company’s principal products are voice, video and data services (telephone, television and connection to the internet).  In industry terms, they are considered an “over builder”.  An over builder is a provider that provides alternatives to what is currently offered in the community (they come in to compete with current telephone, television and internet providers for your business). HBC did not receive any local, state or federal funds to undertake this project.  HBC is using its own money to build a fiber optic infrastructure in Red Wing and, like any other private business; it hopes that enough residents and businesses will subscribe to their services to make their investment pay off.  Residents or businesses will not be required to subscribe to HBC services.  Residents will simply have another choice (like Coke vs. Pepsi). 

What they provide? 

 In the next few years, HBC will be constructing what is known as a “full fiber build”.  Any home or business in Red Wing that wishes will have a fiber optic connection for voice, video and data service to their home rather than their current copper connection.   

What’s the difference between copper and fiber? 

The primary difference between copper and fiber is the speed in which the signal is transmitted.  Fiber optic is a beam of light (with the right electronics at the end of the cable, the information in that cable could literally be transmitted at the speed of light).  Copper, on the other hand, provides more resistance and its signal transmission cannot approach the speed of fiber optic.  Some have called fiber optic a future proof technology in that we have literally just scratched the surface of what can be done. Currently most of Red Wing is served by a fiber/copper hybrid network.  A provider may have a fiber optic connection to the neighborhood, but the final leg is copper-based infrastructure. 

What’s in it for me? 

 Like anything else, when more competition enters the market, the consumer typically benefits.  The service providers may sharpen their pencils a bit and give you a better price and they most always work a bit harder to provide better customer service.  HBC does have plans for a local office and local production facilities.  This will result in new offerings for our community. In the economic development community we’re very excited about a fiber optic network.  We believe a robust fiber optic network will help our existing businesses to grow and better compete in the global marketplace.  We also believe that the network will help attract new businesses and investment into the community.  Red Wing will be recognized as a leader in providing this technology to homes and businesses.  Yes, other communities have fiber networks, but not many.   In many communities a fiber optic network has also helped provide better and more educational opportunities, better health care delivery, and opportunities for residents to more easily work from their home.   In summary, this is truly an exciting initiative for Red Wing.  It’s not something that just came along; we’ve been working on this initiative for years.  As the network is built, please take the time to read about and explore your options, ask questions of the service providers, and expect, no demand, superior customer service.

Myron White, Executive Director, Red Wing Port Authority