St Paul is Looking at Fiber

I live in St Paul. All summer my street has been torn up for sewer and whatever else – not for fiber. So it is with some annoyance that I announce that St Paul is now looking into a fiber network. Last December, the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners approved funding for the public sector portion of a public private partnership to construct a 120 mile fiber optic network. At the start of this month, St. Paul City Council approved negotiations with Ramsey County that will determine how to lay out and pay for a public-private fiber-optic network.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The plan is for the county and city to operate the $14 million government side of the network and Minnesota Fiber Exchange (MFE) to run the private half. The two will split construction costs, but existing cable companies aren’t thrilled with the idea of the city and county subsidizing a competitor. The council unanimously approved the action without discussion.

County and city leaders say a new network will give them long-term control over costs and services. Public officials say they need the network for intergovernmental communications and that it made sense to partner with a private company to share costs of laying the fiber.

I’m thrilled at the possibility of a faster connection – but really wishing folks had been thinking about dig once and the possibility of fiber when the approved what appears to have been (so far) a two-summer stretch of street work.

This entry was posted in Community Networks, FTTH, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

2 thoughts on “St Paul is Looking at Fiber

  1. This may sound crazy, but “dig once” is often not the best strategy when burying fiber cables.

    A “single dig” project for installing multiple types of utility infrastructure is usually nice for aesthetics and can be cheaper for the utilities because they can share some of the labor and construction costs. However, it can significantly increase future downtime, installation time, and maintenance costs when the utilities are close together.

    Construction and repairs are usually harder when close to another utility. It makes for a tougher work environment and more potential for problems. It isn’t hard for a backhoe operator to rip out a fiber when digging nearby other utilities. Of course, all of the utilities should be properly located and all equipment operators should try to protect other buried utilities, but in the real world it doesn’t always happen that way.

    I’d hate to see my broadband service be in danger anytime somebody up the road gets a new water, gas or sewer service. Then in danger again whenever that person up the road needs their service repaired.

  2. I guess that’s like putting all of your utility eggs in one basket! I hadn’t thought about that before.

    Although we had plenty of time and space for loads of options for conduit – our road had been closed for almost two months and had been dug about three feet down for most the time. Some of the sidewalk was dug up and they will be replanting the boulevard grass!

    Maybe the perfect world is dig once, dig deep (or wide) and allow space between lines. If only we lived in the perfect world with the ready cash required to allow for long term saving.

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