The Sun Prairie City Council met on January 14th to discuss a possible investment in a municipal fiber network. Thank you to local resident Jonathan Kleinow for alerting us to developments in the south central Wisconsin town.
The Star published an article about the meeting in which The Motive Group presented information to the Committee of the Whole. According to the story, the consulting firm has been working with Sun Prairie Utilities for a year to find ways to improve local connectivity and spur economic development with fiber. The community is considering the possibilities of a triple-play FTTH network for the areas 30,000 residents.
Sun Prairie Utilities solicited responses to a community survey. They received 700 responses with 88% in favor of a fiber investment.
From the article:
The recommended plan put for[th] by The Motive Group has a total cost of near $27 million, with $21 million of that as year-one capital expenditures to serve roughly 13,550 homes and businesses in the city.
Budgeted in the initial year's expense total is $11 million for aerial and underground construction and equipment.
Once the fiber system is operational and available for customers, [The Motive Group's Beth] Ringley said projections show $9.97 million in annual operating revenue by year 20 of the system to go along with expenses of $1.26 million.
By year 20, total assets are projected to be at $27.16 million, with total cash at $12.56 million.
Councilman Jon Freund commented that he was opposed to the idea at first but that he now believes Sun Prairie Utilities and the City could partner to distinguish the community. From the article:
“Technology has become a greater and greater need for both businesses and residents,” Freund continued. “This is an opportunity for us to basically differentiate Sun Prairie from all the other communities in Dane County.”
He added that fiber installation would “put Sun Prairie on the leading edge” for economic development and local and long-distance education opportunities.
The Star also reported on Jaunary 25th that city officials want to provide ample opportunity to incumbents:
“The worst they can say is ‘No’ and we say ‘Thank you for your time‘ and we come back to this body and say we've ruled that out,” [Mayor John] Murray remarked.
Freund said he and others spoke Tuesday with Frontier representatives and the provider expressed little interest.
“It was a good conversation and certainly as we looked at partners they would be the most likely partner in the community, but it was pretty clear that they weren't interested in taking this project on themselves and providing us this service at no cost to the city,” Freund said.
City Council members plan to reach out to the people of Sun Prairie through informational meetings. The first is scheduled for March 4th.
“My hope is that we continue to put additional information out over the next month to continue to educate the public,” Freund said.
Sun Prairie is located about an hour southeast of Reedsburg, where the community has benefitted from a community network since 1998. Reedsburg recently began offering gigabit service for less than $300 per month.
A local news story notes that an existing beer distributor is already using the utility's fiber and it has been important to its business: