Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Ribbon cut for town's new fiber optic broadband network

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The Town of Chesterton’s new fiber optic communications and data network is open for business, with a ribbon-cutting last week in Thomas Centennial Park to celebrate the achievement.

Primary construction of the 15.5 -mile high-speed fiber-optic broadband network is done-- additional laterals, fiber ring redundancy, and final testing will be completed later in the year--and the Chesterton Fiber Optic Network (CFON) is now active. More than 44 businesses have already signed as founding customers with the network’s contracted operator, Northwest Indiana Telephone Company (NITCO).

In 2017 the town signed a 25-year operating agreement with NITCO to manage and operate the network. Under that agreement local businesses may purchase NITCO services such as Voice, Internet, TV, and Long Distance using the town-owned network. Over 300 businesses in the town are within reach of the gigabit-capable fiber network.

“NITCO shares the vision with the town to improve the speed, efficiency, and reliability of Chesterton’s communications infrastructure,” the company said in a statement released last week. “CFON will create economic development leading to job creation and growth as well as contributing to the quality of life in the town. The backbone of CFON includes two 144-strand single mode fiber optic loops which includes the business areas of the town’s TIF District. Chesterton’s network is impressive in that it is a hybrid of both Lit and Dark fibers, giving the town flexibility in working with NITCO as operator and providing services to the business community that previously were unavailable.”

“The town is very proud of the new Chesterton Fiber Network,” Redevelopment Commission Chair Jeff Trout said. “The opportunities for local businesses and the economic development potential created with this advanced technology fiber has raised the bar. Chesterton now ranks as the best place for business to locate in northwest Indiana! We have the quality of life and now the infrastructure to keep local business and attract new business.”

NITCO President Tom Long agreed. “No matter how great our accomplishments have been in the past, you can never rest on your laurels,” Long said. “A community has to continually reinvent itself as time marches on, and Chesterton has done just that. Think of high-speed Internet as the electricity of the 21st century. Just as electricity drove economic development in the 20th century, so too does high-speed Internet today.”

“NITCO is from the region,” Long added. “We are local. All of our employees and customers are in Northwest Indiana. We have deep roots here in NWI giving us a more responsive connection to the communities we serve. For 80 years NITCO has worked with municipal, business and residential customers to provide the best in telecommunications services and that commitment will continue in Chesterton thanks to its new fiber network.”

NITCO will begin offering services to business, education, commercial, and medical customers immediately.

The Operating Agreement

Details from the town’s operating agreement with NITCO subsidiary FBN Indiana, which will serve as the network’s operator for an initial term of 25 years, with two renewable periods of 10 years each:

* The town is responsible for the cost of constructing the network’s initial fiber-optic backbone and will own the infrastructure itself. Construction costs to date, including change orders: $1,508,140.45, or 22 percent over the original contract price of $1,233,673.91. The construction contract was awarded in October 2017 to low bidder CSU Inc. of Plainfield, Ind. The town is using tax increment financing moneys to fund the project.

* FBN Indiana is responsible for the cost of installing all lateral legs to reach customers. Any lateral built within the Town of Chesterton will become municipal property.

* FBN Indiana is responsible for maintaining, repairing, and upgrading the network.

* FBN Indiana is 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 Indiana was required to pre-pay and reimburse the town for all charges owed to Spread Networks for access to the latter’s New York/Chicago line. The cost of connecting to that line: a $60,000 up-front fee, plus a $5,500 monthly charge, the latter increasing by 3 percent each year.

* FBN Indiana assumes all costs associated with access to the Spread Networks line.

 

Posted 7/16/2018

 
 
 
 

 

 

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