Internet speeds are about to get much faster for some Fort Atkinson businesses, the School District of Fort Atkinson and the City of Fort Atkinson. The Fort Atkinson City Council on Tuesday advanced a large expansion of fiber internet service in the city for businesses and government entities.
The city is investigating its options when it comes to owning and operating the fiber internet line for the school district, city government and Klement Business Park. If the city is unable to own the Klement Business Park line, it will reimburse IPEC for the cost of installation — $26,570 from Spectrum.
City Manager Matt Trebatoski said that the Klement Business Park desperately needs an internet upgrade as it currently is using the outdated DSL system. He said the park’s current internet speeds are between 3 and 25 megabits per second. For context, the global average upload speed is 40.32 megabits per second, according to Speedtest, an internet speed- ranking service.
“Currently, the only option is DSL,” Trebatoski said. “It’s just not built for what business needs are in today’s world.”
He said the city also considered installing a coaxial cable to allow businesses the choice of cable internet, but installation would have cost $40,000 and the technology itself would become outdated quickly.
However, fiber internet will have a higher monthly cost to individual businesses.
Trebatoski also said it is important for the city to make this investment because of its large stake in the business park.
“The city is still the majority landowner. I look at us having responsibility of bringing businesses into the park,” Trebatoski said. “It made sense for the city to participate.”
The city’s role in internet services is becoming similar to its role in other essential utilities, according to council member Jude Hartwick.
“It’s infrastructure, like streets and utilities,” Hartwick said.
Council President Paul Kotz agreed that this is necessary to fill the business park.
“This is clearly the right thing to do for our current tenants who invested in the park, retaining those tenants and attracting new ones,” Kotz said.
Trebatoski said the city’s listing agent told him fiber internet would be a marketable feature and big selling point for the business park and it is something businesses ask about frequently.
While it is likely the city will facilitate the installation of fiber by Spectrum for the business park, the municipal government and school district are going to join together on a fiber system.
City engineer Andy Selle said the school district was working on a project to connect all of its facilities on one fiber network and asked the city if it would likely to join in.
The combined project will include two fiber lines, one for the city and one for the school district with the city’s connections — handholes — at the municipal building, fire station, police station, water main station and public library.
The city will own one of the lines and the school district, the other, with installation paid for by the school district.
While this is beneficial to the city for now, Selle said, it really sets the city up to take advantage of fiber internet at a later date. He compared the fiber line to installing a water main that can be branched off for use by future customers.
“This puts the fiber and laterals out, similar to a water main,” Selle said. “There are a lot of potential uses of the fiber network in the future. We’re setting ourselves to take advantage at a later date.”
The idea of fiber internet around Fort Atkinson got the city council very excited about the future.
Hartwick started talking about the development of a free wireless internet service in Fort Atkinson’s downtown area — which Selle said would have some difficulties, but could be possible.
Also discussed was the possibility of area businesses along the line tapping into the network.
Selle said this is called a community area network, adding that it has its pros and cons.
“The city and a number of different partners could come together,” Selle said. “There are pluses and minuses to that, for right now, we see the upside of just sharing with the city and school district.”
But, starting the process now bodes well for the future.
“The thought is that making this investment now sets us up to have those meaningful conversations in the future,” Selle said.
- The Year the Internet Thought I Was MacKenzie Bezos – WIRED
- Easy ways to get the fastest internet connection possible in your home – Komando
- Elon Musk says Starlink internet private beta to begin in roughly three months, public beta in six – TechCrunch
- Verizon is canceling home internet installations during the pandemic – The Verge
- Ethiopia’s internet shutdowns are disrupting millions of lives – Quartz Africa
- How to check if your service provider is throttling your internet – CNET
- 8 charts on internet use around the world as countries grapple with COVID-19 – Pew Research Center
- How to boost your home internet speeds while you’re stuck at home: Tech Support – Yahoo Money
- Welcome (Back) to the Appointment Internet – New York Magazine