The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

February 7, 2013

Delivering broadband to Ottumwa a priority

OTTUMWA — Des Moines and Iowa City may deserve fast Internet service. But the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says not to forget smaller towns and rural areas.

A computer consultant says there are a dozen ways to make that happen. And a private company says their recent investment shows they should be part of the conversation.

“Broadband” (see below for definition) is important enough that Ottumwa Economic Development Director David Barajas recently described it like an old west town getting the railroad. It can boost economic development — and businesses would rather move to a town that has high-speed Internet in place.

The FCC’s 2012 Broadband Progress Report found that “nearly 19 million [Americans] remain without fixed broadband service. The data also indicates that people living in rural and on Tribal lands are disproportionately lacking such access.”

Mediacom spokeswoman Phyllis Peters suggested using the company as a way to increase access to high-speed Internet for everyone — considering the fiber network the company has put in place in Ottumwa and surrounding areas.

The FCC says municipalities and industry are teaming up to increase broadband access across the country, something the FCC wants to see at 100 percent.

“Like any other business that is capital intensive, we only succeed when the community succeeds,” said Peters. “We’re a technology company [that started] as a cable TV company. We’ve deployed a robust fiber network [around Ottumwa],  and it’s available. We build it, want it to be used and for communities to do well. If the communities wither, so do we.”

Could calling on private industry be part of Ottumwa’s solution to having broadband? Maybe, said one expert.

“I feel there are probably 10 to 12 clearly defined options for how to both pay for and run broadband networks,” said Craig Settles, a broadband and fiber optic community assessment consultant working with the OEDC in Ottumwa. “On one end of the spectrum, the city itself ... hires people to build it, then ... run the network. On the other end, communities create a wish list where they go to the private sector.”

Settles said there are dozens of American communities engaged in a public-private partnership and many communities that own their own network.

He said he and the supporters of broadband in Ottumwa haven’t forgotten the companies that are established. But it’s not as simple as calling one company and asking them to install broadband.

The task is to develop a picture of what people want to do with their Internet connection. Based on that, Settles can determine what type of broadband Ottumwa needs.

In a separate survey, he and the OEDC team asked providers what they have in place.

“My goal is to give the city a set of options,” he said. “When we know what the people want, I can then go to the providers and say, ‘This is what we want. But this is what you have. How do we bridge that gap?’”

Just don’t forget about us, Peters insists.

“We want to keep the lines of communication open with city leaders and economic development leaders to reach the best solutions to help the city and local businesses — current and future — succeed,” she said.

Even small towns, she said, now have access to 105 mbps speeds in the Wapello County area.

“You have to keep adding to the technology and investing to stay out front. The kind of infrastructure we have — it doesn’t stay still,” Peters said. “Our fiber network is already here. We’re willing to build more miles of fiber if needed. And why wouldn’t we? When more business comes to Ottumwa, and the community does well, private businesses do better, too.”

At the Ottumwa Public Library, where her company put in 105 mbps Internet on the public computers for the next 60 days, employees are impressed.

Assistant Library Director Ron Houk, who oversees technology for the library, said he can see how a business that had 50 computer terminals working could benefit from such an arrangement.

It used to be, he said, the more people downloaded, the slower the system would go.

But now, said Houk, with 105 mbps each second, that doesn’t happen anymore.

“Everybody could be watching high-definition video at once,” he said.

Text Only
Local News
  • A change at Evans OTTUMWA — You can get kids to memorize facts. But teaching them to think can take more time. Educational leaders told the Ottumwa school board that the school year that begins 2014 will shift Evans Middle School students from 45-minute periods to 60-

    April 17, 2014

  • 0418 OTT Tree City U.S.A. logo Ottumwa awarded as Tree City U.S.A. again OTTUMWA — Having big, beautiful trees throughout a community can help spruce up a city and make it more attractive to visitors. Ottumwa has shown a dedication to making the community more green and inviting, and the efforts have been recognized by th

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Agriculture Day color photo 2 -T -L -M Cardinal students celebrate Ag Day ELDON — Sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom and come face-to-face with things that you might not see every day. Students at Cardinal Elementary School got that chance Thursday during Ag Day. Every year, the Cardinal FFA and

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT Five Things logo -T -L -M Five things to do in southeast Iowa this weekend OTTUMWA — It's a weekend of Easter celebrations, historic events and educational opportunities in southeast Iowa. Many people are gathered together this weekend, and the surrounding communities have scheduled events perfect for the whole family. 1. S

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418 OTT Joe Tafta bw photo -L -T -M Pursuing opportunities OTTUMWA — Joe Tafta follows the rules. The Simpson College junior hopes to be a U.S. marshal one day, so he’s careful about what he says and does. But not always. On the afternoon of April 1, Tafta says, he nearly got booted out of Dunn Library for m

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418 OTT OEDC director -T Guiding our growth OTTUMWA — An organization designed to help Ottumwa grow has found a new employee in Indiana. The Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation (OEDC) board has chosen Sharon Stroh as the group's new executive director. “We are confident she will hit the g

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0417 OTT Earth day color photo 1 -T -M Cargill celebrates Earth Day by educating ALBIA — In honor of Earth Day on Tuesday, April 22, employees from Cargill Eddyville and Cargill Pork are visiting with students at Grant Elementary and Lincoln Center in Albia all this week. On Wednesday the Courier caught up with them as they went

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • 0417 OTT Saving Center color photo -T -L -M Hedrick building has friends HEDRICK — The community wants a civic center, and they've been willing to work for it. "I'd say we have 15 to 25 volunteers each time," Tommy Smith of Hedrick said. "These are all good people." Smith was volunteering his services at the Easter Brunch

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Southern Iowa farmers preparing for planting OTTUMWA — Even though the winter seemed to linger like Iowa was going through an ice age and cold and wet weather has highlighted the early spring, farmers are starting to get out to their fields to put down fertilizer and get fields ready for planti

    April 16, 2014

  • 0417 OTT Camp Wapello fence photo -T -M -L Good fence irritates good neighbor DRAKESVILLE — For 82 years, Camp Wapello’s iconic entryway has welcomed people to peacefully coexist with nature. Now there’s a 400-foot barbed wire fence down the middle of the road. In February, Davis County Supervisors approved vacating of portion

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition