Outage brings fiber to foreLast week’s communications outage during the floods was yet another reminder for Lake County residents for the need for backup lines running up the North Shore.
By: Amber Ooley, Lake County News-Chronicle
Last week’s communications outage during the floods was yet another reminder for Lake County residents for the need for backup lines running up the North Shore.
Frontier Communications provides the main internet and phone service in the county with other companies using its lines. When the main line failed at the Knife River bridge on the Highway 61 Expressway, there was no landline phone, cell phone or internet use available.
“In Two Harbors, you couldn’t call anyone,” Lake County Commissioner Paul Bergman said Monday during a meeting about the county’s fiber optic line project that promises to bring redundancy lines to avoid the problems of last week and other outages in the past.
“Fiber is more resilient to outages and it’s the latest and greatest thing,” Lake Connections manager Jeff Roiland said.
Lake Connections wants to “close the digital divide” by providing broadband services to individuals and businesses in Lake and portions of St. Louis counties.
“With fiber you will get the same speed whether you’re right next to the cabinet or if you’re 26 miles away from it,” Roiland said.
Lake Connections is planning to begin the project’s first construction phase this week after a final permit is signed.
They will be placing 75 miles of fiber along the power lines, connecting the cities of Two Harbors and Silver Bay by the end of September, Roiland said.
The second phase will begin in October for 850 miles of fiber extending to the cities of Isabella, Ely, Aurora and rural areas.
“About 250 miles of the 850 will be buried,” Roiland said. “We’d like to get that done before the ground freezes up and work the aerial throughout the winter.”
The third phase is 850 miles of fiber extending to far rural areas and will start in 2013.
Funding for the project is being received from federal loans and grants.
Lake Connections has an agreement to finish the project by 2015, but Roiland is expecting to finish in early 2014.
Community members wishing to receive a fiber connection either now or sometime in the future are required to sign a permission form. There is no obligation to purchase services by signing but it will make construction easier in the long run and lower future costs.
Lake Connections has received forms from more than 35 percent of property owners in Two Harbors and Silver Bay, Roiland said.
Workers will continue going door-to-door to gather more permission slips. They will be reporting daily with the signed forms for the next few months days and finish before construction begins.