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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
Fiber optic service center opened to public
PHOTO: Project Manager Jeff Roiland
The newly remodeled Lake Connections Administration and Service Center building was opened to the public Wednesday. Celebrating its Grand Opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, tours of the facility and lunch, the event drew about 300 people from around the region, along with representatives of Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Rick Nolan.
Lake County launched the fiber-optic recruitment effort in 2009, an challenge that has been filled with hurdles. Lake County Commissioners Brad Jones and Rich Sve recalled it was a difficult way to begin their terms, but one that they appreciate in retrospect.
“This was one of our first decisions in office,” said Jones, “We agonized over such a big commitment, but we are relieved and excited to get to this day.”
Sve delivered a speech commemorating next-phase launch – the imminent connection to homes and businesses. A price list was unveiled detailing residential and business costs for high-speed Internet, digital TV and voice services.
“In the long run, this was the right decision for Lake County, especially for rural and underserved areas of our community," Sve said. The $70 million project will provide ultra hi-speed internet service to Lake County and eastern St. Louis County.
With initial hook-ups still months away, Project Manager Jeff Roiland explains that obstacles still remain, such as utility pole ownership being contested by Frontier Communications for more than 300 utility poles in the city of Two Harbors.
“We want to sit down at the table and try to discuss this issue," Roiland said. A conference call between Lake Connections and Frontier Communications held Aug. 14 was intended to move the pole attachment issue into alternative dispute resolutions procedures. For now, discussion remains confidential with the involved parties not at liberty to comment.
The new administration building will also house the Central Office Data Center, containing a fiber distribution frame with potential for 6,000 terminating fibers coming from customers surrounding Two Harbors. Other data centers will be located in Silver Bay and Aurora, with construction there still underway.
Calling the potential for data speed an amazing asset to potential businesses, Lake Connections Vice President and Director of Governmental Affairs Gene South said, “It all stems from a fiber strand of glass the size of a human hair.”
The equipment serving the Silver Bay area will be housed inside a section of their city hall, with the necessary remodeling expected to be completed in about a month. Once done, Roiland said splicing can begin out in the field. Main line crews are currently busy throughout the service area, with drop line construction to follow.
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