Despite being out of the public view for quite some time, the iVinton initiative to bring modern telecommunications to Vinton is still proceeding. In this article we will cover the progress that has been made to date.
After almost a year researching potential engineering firms capable of completing an accurate feasibility study for Vinton, Farr Technologies of Sioux Falls, SD, was chosen. Farr Technologies was selected based on recommendations from clients and their familiarity with projects in communities of Vinton’s size. Farr is also very familiar with USA Communications, a possible partner in any project Vinton might do.
Completing the study took 9 months and required substantial communication between Vinton Municipal Utilities, (VMEU), iVinton volunteers and Farr staff. The project envisions finding one or more partners to work with, forming a public-private, or public-public partnership (P3). Partnerships will limit the equipment cost for Vinton and could provide management and/or technical expertise. Dwindling landline subscribers and customers moving from cable TV to streaming sources also make investments in the equipment for those services less attractive.
The Vinton telecommunications utility would use fiber-to-the-home to provide gigabit service to any subscriber willing to pay for that level of broadband.
The Vinton system is envisioned as being a symmetrical service, meaning that speeds for upload and download will be the same. To test your internet speed click here. Current providers using copper provide asymmetrical service with download speeds several times faster than upload speeds.
Five teams have been formed to complete the next phase of research before recommendations are made to VMEU and the City of Vinton. One team is charged with researching how economic development could be aided by the utility, or hampered if the utility isn’t completed. Another team is working on the issue of finding a suitable partner or partners. A third team is working on the market research needed to understand the services Vinton residents currently purchase. A fourth team is researching alternative methods of capitalizing the project, and the last team is in charge or researching smart cities / smart grid applications of fiber technology.
If you are interested in helping with any of these teams please register here. The goal is to have the work wrapped-up and recommendations prepared by the end of February.
Curtis Dean, an independent consultant who also serves as Broadband Services Coordinator for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, is assisting all teams along with Todd Kielkopf. Todd has 20 plus years of experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors and was General Manager of the Municipal Electric, Water, and Telecom Utility in Indianola, Iowa.