County Defines Need for Fiber and Broadband Study | Local News
CLINTON – The Clinton County Board of Supervisors this week clarified the intent of the fiber study the board approved this spring.
Supervisors in May approved a continuation of a study by SmartSource Consulting to provide the county with an overview of the county’s broadband service. The county is using funds from the American Rescue Plan to fund the study. The county’s allowance for the American Rescue Plan is approximately $ 9 million.
The first phase of the study will cost the county $ 105,000, Curtis Dean, owner of SmartSource Consulting, said at Monday’s supervisory board meeting. If the county chooses optional steps after the first phase of the study, the cost could reach $ 150,000, Dean noted.
The county twice discussed the proposal before approving the study, Clinton County Supervisor Dan Srp noted. It was discussed that the study would be a tool to assess where the county could make additional investments in expanding internet connectivity, broadband speeds and investments in fiber, among others, Srp said. The county has considered investing potentially millions of dollars to facilitate installations and facilitate the involvement of local Internet service providers in the projects, Srp said.
“This has been the active discussion trying to better adapt and facilitate their participation,” said Srp. “We certainly know that there are large vendors that are national entities or multi-state entities that work in the region. But it can be said that they already have the resources to do this and haven’t done it. And we know that the local vendors are the ones that do it in a lot of our communities. And so if we can work to facilitate and accommodate them, I’ve always understood that was the intention. Important to this project was to collect the data so that our locals could fill in the county gaps.
When Srp voted to support the study, it was in the interest of economic development and support for households, families, industries and agriculture, he said. Srp has also focused on making Clinton County a more attractive place to locate and do business for the future, he added.
Supervisory board chairman Tom Determann believes the county has entered into the contract for the study to try to support and help local vendors, businesses and citizens so they can work from home and doing business from home, he said.
“We would like all of our county buildings, our conservation department and our back roads department to be connected as well,” Determann said. “They aren’t now. So we thought we needed it, I know we need this study. We need to know where to fill in the gaps and we think we can help fill in the gaps.”
Vice-chairman Jim Irwin Jr. believes local suppliers know where their gaps lie, he said. It’s about whether they want to spend those funds on going the last mile, he said.
Srp believes the county deserves credit for having an independent review of the data before it starts making any commitments, he said.
The study will allow the county to control the dollars it might send, added Eric Van Lancker, Clinton County auditor. It’s an opportunity for the county to control where the growth is going, he said.
If the county is investing US bailout funds to help local suppliers, they need to be careful with this process, Dean said.
“If you don’t do the process in such a way that it’s an open process, nothing would stop a Mediacom or a Windstream from suing the county for favoring one operator over another,” Dean said. “So do this in a way that allows you to objectively evaluate it, and then write the rules for your program so it’s clear that your rules don’t necessarily favor one provider over another, but favor one technology or one outcome over the other to do it without ending up in a courtroom, quite frankly. Because these big companies are very happy to sue. ”
Irwin was taken aback by questions he received on a phone call last week, he said. A local provider had questions because the county had signed the contract and the provider had not yet been contacted.
Suppliers will be contacted, Van Lancker said.
The county previously discussed the study’s timeline and whether vendors would be involved in the timeline, Srp added.
Dean had a direct conversation with one of the providers long before the county approved the study to let them know what the vision for the study was, he said.