• Last modified 511 days ago (Dec. 19, 2019)


Marion's City council OKs design of high-speed Internet

Staff writer

Marion city council Monday voted unanimously to approve a $7,492 high-speed broadband fiber network design and study to be paid in conjunction with TCT, the broadband division of Tri-County Telephone.

The city and TCT will each pay half the cost.

A plan to install Internet fiber capable of delivering 1 gigabyte speeds for both business and residential customers will be developed and a study will be done to determine how many businesses and residents would use high speed broadband Internet, and what speed would serve their needs.

City administrator Roger Holter said Tuesday that TCT should have a high-speed Internet plan finished within weeks, and the community survey will take longer.

Afterward, TCT can apply for a USDA grant or loan to install fiber.

Holter told council members the federal Department of Agriculture is making $550 million available to bring high-speed broadband Internet infrastructure to rural areas during 2020.

USDA will make up to $200 million available for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant and loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans as part of the 2020 ReConnect Pilot Program.

The money is intended to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas.

USDA will accept applications for grants or loans starting Jan. 31.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt said he’s talked to residents who say broadband Internet is an important factor in whether they remain in Marion.

They also say they have children in Marion schools and nice homes they don’t want to give up.

Holter said more health insurance companies are pushing for telemedicine physician visits in rural areas, which require very high speed Internet service.

Last modified Dec. 19, 2019