Willmar City Council authorized staff to move forward with drafting a contract with Hometown Fiber to build out a $19.3 million open-access fiber network with a speed of up to 10 gigabytes per second.
If all goes as planned, the city of Willmar will have a $19.3 million open-access fiber broadband network with coverage throughout the city and speeds from one to 10 gigabytes per second in the next three years — all at no cost to taxpayers.
Here are the details…
Along with installing the infrastructure at no cost to the city, Hometown Fiber will maintain the network for the foreseeable future and has agreed to revenue sharing with the city of at least $250,000 per year, according to Walker.
Revenue bonds would be issued to pay for the construction of the network, which would be paid by the revenue generated by the network.
“As far as why the city of Willmar is getting such a good deal from Hometown Fiber is they need proof of concept,” Walker said. “(Open-access fiber networks do) not exist in the state of Minnesota and, right now, we’re just in a really good situation — a lot of coincidences have really just kind of come together to work out for us that we have such a great deal and that it’s an open access fiber network opportunity.”
Info on the options they didn’t select…
The broadband RFP selection committee was formed several months ago to review the requests for proposals from broadband internet service providers to increase access to broadband internet service in Willmar.
The city also received proposals from two other internet providers — Vibrant and Windstream.
The committee immediately set aside the Vibrant proposal due to only offering a partial build-out more focused on the industrial park and being very noncommittal on a timeline for a complete build-out or how much it would cost the city.
The other proposal was from Windstream, which is currently building out a fiber network that will provide coverage for about 50% of Willmar at no cost to the city, according to Walker. Its proposal to partner with the city for a complete build-out was still only a partial build-out, focusing only on the main part of the city.
For complete coverage of the city north of the railroad tracks, into the industrial park, and south of Willmar Avenue, Windstream wanted the city to provide $4.7 million. The city would have to issue general obligation bonds, meaning taxpayers would foot the bill, according to Walker.