Fiber hook-ups at no cost is a win-win-win

It is generally accepted that high-speed, high-capacity internet capability is becoming more than just a common place.  The need for high-speed, high-capacity internet in Cook County is no different.  Today, the internet isn’t just about sites like YouTube, Facebook, or the top headline on MSNBC (by the way, have you noticed the amount of use sites like Facebook are used by local business –it’s incredible)!  Today, the internet plays a critical role in providing citizens and businesses access to financial markets, healthcare, education, work from home (or cabin) and so much more. 

Success and growth of our community will come with hard work, intelligent planning, and efficient utilization of resources.  Cook County has taken significant steps through the enactment of the County 1% sales tax to facilitate community development through a select group of community infrastructure projects.  At the time of the 1% sales tax enactment, broadband funding was estimated to consume nearly 48% of collected sales tax funds.

A goal of Cook County’s, and shared by that of Arrowhead Electric Cooperative is that all residents, cabin owners and businesses have access to a high-speed, high-capacity internet service at a competitive price.  The question in our minds at Arrowhead Electric is, “What are the financial barriers to accessing a high-speed, high-capacity internet service?”  One such barrier is the installation of the “box” that must be installed in each dwelling.  Generally ranging around $400 per dwelling it seems like a great use of 1% funds to create a win-win-win situation for our community.  At $400 per dwelling the total utilization of 1% sales tax funds is approximately $1.8 million dollars (9%) – IF, every Arrowhead Electric and Grand Marais PUC account elects to subscribe to an internet service providing a minimum service level (minimum service level to be determined by Cook County).

Win #1 – Residents, Cabin owners, Business

Using a portion of the 1% tax monies to rebate property owners the estimated $400 installation fee removes any barrier to entry.  A high-speed, high-capacity community broadband connection is available for use with no up-front cost.

Win #2 – Cook County

Local government who has long wished for high-speed, high-capacity internet for its property owners gets fulfilled at no cost aside from the 1% sales tax collection.

Win #3 – Our Member Owners

Arrowhead Electric Cooperative is entering a competitive business.  However, I don’t think we’re revealing any secrets by acknowledging the more assistance we can gain for local residents, cabin owners and businesses, the more likely our subscriber rates will be higher – fueling the success of your member owned cooperative.

For more information about the proposal read more at WTIP: http://www.wtip.org/drupal/content/fiber-optic-commissionto-request-one-percent-funding

8 Responses to “Fiber hook-ups at no cost is a win-win-win”

  1. Charles L. St.Sauver says:

    Internet access is a great boost for our area. Please also consider providing television access too!! Since we have gone over to digital TV signals, many of us residents along highway 61 near the lake have lost our ability to bring in a usable signal. I will need to buy a satelite dish to regain our television capability. If you can provide this service over the same wire it will increase the demand for the cable connection, increasing the number of residents willing to connect to this service. If more residents connect to to this service, the cost for everyone should decrease. I think a bundle that would provide options for internet, phone, and television would be very popular!! A reduced cost as the number of items in the bundle increase would be a great marketing tool. If we keep the cost reasonable, with a great starter package, the demand will be high!! Thanks for your consideration!!

    Charlie

    • Joe says:

      The decision to exclude video considered financial risk and member benefit. The capital (up-front) costs of providing a video service is much greater than that of a data or phone service. Arrowhead Electric is aware that a number of our members (including business’s) are interested in a video service capable of providing everything from local content, HD, DVR, on-demand services and more. The additional risk taken on by the Cooperative out weighs the benefits at this time. That being said, our network once constructed will be able to add video if demanded by our members and those in the City of Grand Marais.

  2. paul taubr says:

    4G is widely predicted to be coming throughout the country. Yet Arrowhead will be installing fiber. Please compare the costs and benefits of a likely 4G system and your fiber system.

    thank you

    • Joe says:

      4G may at some point in time replace 3G (currently the most widely used by cellular companies). There are a number of variations of 4G networks, some of which are marketing tactics used by large wireless providers. Others use another technology requiring more antennas to improve the data. Some popular 4G networks are similar to IEEE’s WiMax (802.16) standard. Arrowhead Electric Cooperative has the ability to purchase a WiMax service through the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC). The preliminary study we conducted with NRTC showed WiMax was unable to provide a consistent and reliable signal to the overwhelming area of Cook County do to terrain and vegetation cover. One other issue common to wireless technologies is that of latency. Latency continues to inhibit the application or process consumers need in order to work from home (cabin) or perform other services.

      Lastly, Verizon, one of the largest telecommunications providers (including 3G & 4G wireless provider) in the United States is also the largest provider of residential fiber to the home services. Branded, “FiOS” it dominates it’s wired service areas and is gaining subscribers at incredible rates. Here is a quote directly from Verizon’s FiOS site, “With the massive bandwidth of a 100% fiber-optic network connected directly to your home, you’ll be “future-proofed” for all the hot new Internet tools and applications coming down the pike.” Frankly, we’re more interested in benefits to our community but this illustrates Verizon’s understanding that a fiber connection is a superior technology and is adopted widely by consumers.

      • paul taubr says:

        Joe, thanks for the reply–it is a good paragraph to have on your web site. Your comment on latency implies that what AECI will offer will not be subject to significant latency–is this correct?

        A state or federal project to educate people concerning how to start businesses that depend on very fast internet, and what sorts of businesses these are, would be welcome.

        Thanks
        Paul Taubr

        • Joe says:

          Since fiber optic networks uses light to transmist data any latency encountered is due to the speed of light not being fast enough. Latency problem solved!Locally, Cook County Higher Education is working diligently to identify the needs of currenty businesses, create training opportunities and facilitiate the growth of our area due to this improved infrastrucutre soon to be accessible in Cook County. If you would like to learn more about Cook County Higher Education’s efforts or would like to suggest any ideas I’m sure they would love to get input from others in the community. Cook County Higher Education can be found online or call them at: 218-387-3413

          • paul taubr says:

            Joe,
            Thanks for the reply on latency. Questions:

            How much is this system likely to cost a household per month, in taxes as well as in direct costs? If you don’t know now, what are your working estimates?

            The fiber is going to be above ground for a lot of its run in the county. Weather and fire outages, falling trees? Is this more difficult to repair than copper phone lines? Will the fiber be up and running as soon as the copper phone lines have been?

            Paul Taubr

          • Joe says:

            Working estimates being used are more competitive than any combination of service being offered in Cook County today. We base this on a a 10Mbps symetrical service (10Mbps download & 10Mbps upload) & phone service. This is based on our current model. We are evaluating other partners who offer services that may impact the monthly price and or services offered. The base data service at 10Mbps is pretty much set in stone – unless you want faster/larger capacity service, in which case the monthly rate would be adjusted accordingly.

            With respect to fibers durability and performance. Communications cable isn’t subject to tree damage as often as power cables. Just look at the phone lines in Cook County currently – they are covered in trees hanging on them. Power cables when in contact with trees burn up and cause outages. Specifically, fiber, to the best of my knowledge is more durable in some instances than copper. If a tree falls on a fiber optic line it will often times drag the fiber optic line to the ground but will not interupt the light signals on the fiber cable. When the tree is removed, the fiber will often times “rebound” back to its initial sag overhead. Their are a vast numbers of fiber optic cables. Internally, all fiber is made of glass. However, the jackets, support systems and other internal and external components of the cable provide unique advantages for specific applications. During the Ham Lake Fire our overhead power lines withstood severe conditions while communications lines melted. Power outages during the Ham Lake fire were generally planned to ensure the safety of emergency responders.