Lyon County gets results of broadband feasibility study

The Marshall Independent reports on the results of Lyon County’s broadband feasibility study. Lyon County was part of a project with Chippewa, Lincoln, Murray, Pipestone and Yellow Medicine counties who collectively hired CCG Consulting and Finley Engineering were selected to look at possibilities for expanding broadband Internet in the area…

At Tuesday’s meeting, engineer Chris Konechne of Finley Engineering and Doug Dawson of CCG Consulting presented a draft version of the Lyon County study.

Some areas of Lyon County already have broadband Internet access, including Marshall and Tracy, the study said. Parts of the county served by Woodstock Communications have fiber access, and Minnesota Valley Telephone had plans to build fiber lines, the study said. In addition, Midcontinent Communications received a grant last year to improve broadband speeds in Taunton, Minneota and Ghent.

The study looked at rural areas of Lyon County served by CenturyLink and Frontier Communications, including the communities of Green Valley, Cottonwood, Amiret and Florence. The study also looked at the possibility of building fiber lines in Balaton and Lynd.

The study looked at two main options for expanding broadband access in Lyon County. One would be to build buried a fiber network within the area of the study. However, that plan would require running fiber along 811 miles of streets and roads, the study said. It would also be much more costly, Konechne and Dawson said.

The second option the study looked at would be to bring fiber access to towns in the study area, and serve rural customers with wireless broadband.

Dawson said one of the positive aspects of building a hybrid network was that it would bring fiber access to more people in Lyon County, while leaving infrastructure that could be expanded later.

They also went over costs…

The draft study also included costs of assets like fiber and wireless towers needed to launch the different plans, assuming the project would have a 70 percent customer penetration rate. Asset costs for a fiber network in the rural study area were about $19.98 million, or $21.99 million if the cities of Lynd and Balaton were included. Asset costs for a hybrid network of fiber lines and wireless Internet were about $5.87 million, or $7.89 million if Lynd and Balaton were included.

Next step is public meetings, which they are planning.

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