County ready to jump on the broadband wagonGot a 9x13-foot space that’s located inside city limits and is secure and accessible 24/7? Then your space may be a prime candidate to become a hub for the new fiber optic cable that will form the backbone of a $43 million broadband initiative in northeastern Minnesota.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Got a 9x13-foot space that’s located inside city limits and is secure and accessible 24/7? Then your space may be a prime candidate to become a hub for the new fiber optic cable that will form the backbone of a $43 million broadband initiative in northeastern Minnesota.
Carlton County Economic Development Director Pat Oman informed Carlton County commissioners and department heads on Tuesday that the Northeast Service Cooperative (NESC) is currently seeking fiber optic sites in Barnum, Cromwell, Carlton, Wrenshall and Cloquet. He added that Moose Lake will likely become a site as well sometime in 2011.
The sites will be part of the NESC’s Northeast Middle Mile Fiber Project, designed to make high-speed broadband Internet service available to unserved and underserved areas in eight counties of northeast Minnesota, including St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Koochiching, Carlton, Pine, Itasca and Aitkin.
The federally funded project will deploy a 915-mile fiber optic network, initially serving some 221 sites throughout the region, including educational and health care facilities as well as private businesses and individuals in rural areas where high-speed Internet is not currently available. The project is projected to exceed 400 sites upon completion.
Construction of the broadband project is slated to get under way in 2011, with completion set for 2012. Preliminary to that time, however, the NESC is seeking site submissions for its community hubs that will be toured before final decisions are made.
Oman indicated that he has notified local government units about the need for hub space, but he added that private individuals are free to submit site suggestions as well, as long as they meet the stated requirements. He said he and others have already begun to tour suggested sites, and he invited anyone else with site suggestions to contact him at 218-384-9597.
“This could be a nice revenue opportunity for someone,” said Oman, explaining the estimated lease payment for such a site is around $200 per month.
“This is an arrangement that could last a long time into the future,” he added, “and since it’s federally funded, it should be a fairly dependable source of revenue.”