Vision 2020 gets broadband study results

Downtown Austin

AUSTIN, Minn. – A year-long research project has come to a close in a southern Minnesota community.

Austin’s Vision 2020 is learning the feasibility of bringing ultra broadband to every home and business in the community.

They are calling the project “Gig Austin.” The study shows that it is a good idea and more should be done to make it possible.

“There are some cities, both bigger than Austin and smaller than Austin that have already put the infrastructure in and are very successful with it. A couple that we looked at pretty closely were Chattanooga, Tennessee and Cedar Falls, Iowa,” said Vision 2020 Director Laura Helle.

The best option looks to be what is called “fiber-to-the-premises” (FTTP). That would run the fiber optic material to every building in the school district zone. All someone has to do to receive the service is pay for it.

Helle said it is not something many cities are doing right now.

“It’s a $35 million project to build the infrastructure. Austin, I think, is audacious enough and looking to the future and we’re willing to step out and say if we can pull this together it’s going to have some big benefits,” Helle said.

She said the study shows that a for-profit cable or phone company would likely not be a part of this because of population size. So something like a new co-op could come about to run things.

She said the next step is finding out who would be interested in such a service. Funds for the project would not come from tax dollars, but instead grants or other investments.

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