Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Construction of town's fiber optic network may begin this year

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By KEVIN NEVERS

After nearly two years of consulting, designing, and negotiating, the Town of Chesterton is set to begin actual construction of a fiber-optic network which will serve business, the Duneland Schools, and eventually private households.

At its meeting Monday night, the Redevelopment Commission voted unanimously to award the construction contract for the 13.8-mile main-path network to low-bidder CSU Inc. of Plainfield, Ind. Total contract price for the main path and a spur to Yost Elementary School in Porter: $1,233,673.91.

At the same time the commission approved an operation agreement with NITCO, under which that firm assumes certain costs of the project as well as responsibility for maintaining the network, marketing and bill collection, and installing lateral legs.

The commission also approved an irrevocable right of use (IRU) agreement with Spread Networks, under which the new fiber-optic network will tap into Spread Networks’ fiber line between New York and Chicago.

As Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann noted, “This has been a long, complex matter but we now have agreement on all issues. This puts Chesterton in the unique position of serving existing businesses and attracting new ones. No one’s going to be faster.”

“I think this is going to be a game-changer for Chesterton for many years to come,” added Member Jeff Trout.

“This is a key project,” said John Nekus of Monroe Street Group, the Chicago consultancy tapped by the commission in 2016 to shepherd the town through the process of getting a fiber-optic network up and running. “High-speed fiber will make a material difference to this community’s economy.”

The idea behind the network: to provide businesses and the Duneland Schools with the telecommunications technology needed to compete in the 21st century. Neckus has said that fiber-optic networks have become as much an “infrastructure imperative” for municipalities as clean water, natural-gas and electric service, and sewer treatment.

The network’s hub will be located at the municipal complex at 1490 Broadway and its main line--the “backbone”--will traverse the town’s tax increment financing district. The cost of installing all laterals serving residential areas in town will be NITCO’s responsibility.

The actual work is expected to be minimally invasive, most of it done by boring, and the town is not expected to need to acquire any additional right-of-way or easements for the project. Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that actual work on the network is expected to begin before the end of the year.

The Agreements

Details from the town’s agreement with NITCO:

* NITCO subsidiary FBN Indiana will serve as the network’s operator for an initial term of 25 years, with two renewable periods of 10 years each.

* The town will be responsible for the cost of constructing the network’s initial fiber-optic backbone and will own the infrastructure itself.

* FBN Indiana will be responsible for the cost of installing all lateral legs to reach both commercial and residential customers with Internet, voice, and television services. Any lateral built within the Town of Chesterton will become municipal property.

* FBN Indiana will be responsible for maintaining, repair, and upgrading the network.

* FBN Indiana will be responsible for all marketing, technical support, operations, billing, and collection, and any bad debts will be that firm’s sole responsibility and loss.

* FBN Indiana must pay the town a percent of the gross revenue each quarter: 7.5 percent of non-residential services over the first 25 years; 3.75 percent of residential services; and 7.5 percent of recurring fees paid by other municipalities.

* FBN must pre-pay and reimburse the town for all charges owed to Spread Networks for access to the latter’s New York/Chicago line.

Details from the town’s IRU agreement with Spread Networks:

* The town’s network will splice into the Spread Networks line at a point near the water tower on Broadway, by the fire station, and will give the municipal network access to two “un-lit dark fibers” which run to the company’s data center in Chicago.

* The IRU will be in effect for 25 years.

* The cost for connecting to the Spread Networks line will be a $60,000 up-front fee, plus a $5,500 monthly charge, the latter increasing by 3 percent each year.

* All costs associated with access to the Spread Networks line will be paid by FBN Indiana.

 

 

Posted 10/26/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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