September 15, 2023 at 11:21 a.m.

Franconia internet system enhanced funding is approved


By DENISE MARTIN | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
News

Another chunk of broadband enhancement financial aid was approved by the County Board last week.  The commissioners have divided up the millions of dollars in economic recovery funds the county received, for certain uses and a pot of about $2 million was established for helping to install costly equipment in “under served” internet areas.  The plan was that local governing units would work with broadband providers for local projects.

The Franconia Township broadband project won funding on a 5-0 vote by the Board last week. 

The proposal had been continued from a meeting in August so additional detail could be provided. The company, Hometown Internet, did submit a report but the information was classed as “proprietary” and unlike other companies’ applications for these funds—the Chisago County Press did not have complete access to maps and data discussed.  There will be approximately 153 customers served, according to the Internet firm and three years of maintenance as part of the agreement.

Hometown Internet spokesperson Sam Ashkar told the commissioners “80 percent” of installed Hometown Internet customers are “meeting or exceeding” standards created for use of the federal monies. The tests have been coming in at 20 up and 100 down for loading speeds measured in gigabytes.  The project will not be receiving funds if it fails to meet service standards.

The Franconia Township project is estimated to run about $463,000 and the county approved the township request for $200,000.

Commissioner Ben Montzka cautioned the company reps about proliferation of system towers (this is not wires laid underground,  it is point-to-point wireless)  He said, “I’m looking to you to be creative (co-locate) I don’t want to see towers put up for every technology.”

Ashkar said the plan is not to create new tower sites but if there is one needed Hometown Internet in general limits height to under 170 feet, but terrain and tree cover dictate circumstances.  They have 28 towers around the area already.

 


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