Broadband breeds roadblocks of all sorts – this time from the Minneapolis Park Board

Yesterday I wrote about how the Legislature is going to make it a little easier for broadband deployment to happen in, around and near railroads. Today’s story feels like one step forward, one step back.

Earlier this week, KARE 11 reported that the Minneapolis Park Board is putting on a hold on installation of fiber around Minnehaha Parkway…

US Internet is a Minnetonka-based company building a fiber optic network in Minneapolis. That means internet speeds 10 to 100 times faster than what you can get from the cable company.

But the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board halted the expansion on Minnehaha Pkwy, because the boulevard in front of homes is technically park land.

“Technically it’s park land, but people are not playing Frisbee, they’re not picnicking here,” Stenberg said.

USI execs say they need to run fiber optic cable under the boulevard to the homes. Around the corner, USI paid the city $200 for a permit to expand to Jim Wilbershide’s home.

“Rock solid. Never had an outage,” Wilbershide said.

But on park land boulevards, permits come at a premium. On an email to USI, a parks board planner estimates a nearly $27,000 permit to run the fiber to Stenberg’s house.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune offers a little more background…

“I think it’s probably smart to deny this, but I think it’s also probably smart to continue to work with them,” said Commissioner Brad Bourn. “I don’t think we want to be viewed as obstructive to people accessing technology.”

US Internet can’t use the utility poles that Comcast and Centurylink use, so the company must bury its fiber optic. By offering high-speed Internet for cheap — 100 Mbps for $40 per month — the firm generates buzz in neighborhood forums as its crews move eastward.

Travis Carter, vice president of US Internet, said there will be zero environmental or operational impact if the firm is allowed to dig under parkland.

The problem will have an impact on access for the houses on the Parkway and houses south of the Parkway…

But the few dozen homes along the parkway who can’t yet get US Internet service are a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of addresses south of the creek that are not yet connected. Those will be US Internet’s main focus going forward, Carter said.

“We have to get under the creek in probably three to four spots around the city,” Carter said. “That’s the big, big, big issue.”

They have a meeting Friday with the Park Board to go over the permit application format and ensure they have all the items required for the Park Board to consider another application.

This entry was posted in Building Broadband Tools, MN, Policy, Vendors by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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