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City breaks ground on new broadband network

The city is starting work on a new municipal fiber optic network, but while the project should boost internet speeds at city facilities and schools, the big news for most local residents is higher internet speeds could be a few years and a few contract negotiations away.

Two coils of plastic tubing were wrapped up at the dig site this morning (Monday), where city officials stuck shovels into the ground. One will carry the new municipal network, but the other — added at minimal expense — will be empty for now but built to house a future network put into place by a private provider.

A fiber optic network has been a longtime goal of the city, and City Manager Mark Jinks said the construction of the network is estimated to run over four years.

“It’s a small city, but we’re wiring a hundred facilities,” Jinks said. “One of the cables will be empty, and it costs very little to add that once we’re digging in the ground.”

Jinks said the city is currently working on a process to get a private internet provider onboard.

“The city would issue an announcement for offering a franchise and would give rights of access to that provider,” Jinks said. “Our goal is to start that process before the end of the calendar year.”

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