Change in Ramsey County Plan

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune

The [Ramsey] County Board will vote Tuesday to ditch Minnesota Fiber Exchange (MFE), which was to be a 50-50 partner in laying fiber-optic cable throughout the county beginning in spring 2013.

Board Chair Rafael Ortega said talks with MFE fell apart over “financial and management” issues, but he declined to detail how the deal broke off after three years of planning.

It sounds as if the plan is still to move ahead…

County spokesman Art Coulson said that Ramsey County was “rebooting the [request for proposals]” and still planned to have “shovels in the ground this spring.” Ortega said the timetable may be pushed back to summer.

“We’ll get it done,” he said.

But St. Paul now is reconsidering its participation as a client of the county’s network. It signed on last summer to have the county operate its intranet for internal communications among departments and employees.

St. Paul was to pay Ramsey County roughly $1.5 million a year to operate its intranet. The money was going to be used by the county to help pay the debt on $14 million in county construction bonds.

It will be interesting to see what happens moving forward. It seems as if the St Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and current provider have an interest in what the county decides to do…

Chamber president Matt Kramer said Friday he was “pleased that the Ramsey County Board is revisiting this issue. We believe strongly that thorough due diligence is the hallmark of an open, transparent government.”

“We’re pleased that the concerns raised in the business community have been heard,” Comcast vice president Emmett Coleman said. “At least some of the initial steps have been taken to address those concerns.”

Just last week, Coleman had sent a letter to Ortega asking for more information and criticizing a “lack of transparency” over the decision.

“A taxpayer investment of $14 million deserves thorough examination and public vetting before a decision is reached,” he wrote.

Coleman is the younger brother of Mayor Chris Coleman, who does not participate in discussions or decisions regarding Comcast or cable franchise agreements because of their relationship.

This entry was posted in Community Networks, FTTH, MN, Vendors 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.

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