Fiber survey lacking


I just received the “Benefits of Fiber to the Home” (FTTH) survey included with our Coulee Dam utility bill. The “survey” reads like a poorly written grade-school student project! If Coulee Dam is truly interested in developing a broadband/fiber enterprise, the City should take the quality time and invest the funds by working with experienced consultant(s), including business, legal, and applicable engineers.

How you craft the first considerations, you must understand the options, the limitations, and the strategies. One of the first and most important instruments is the initial survey. When it comes to preparing and releasing a survey, it should be done right the first time! Metaphorically, you only get one first kiss … and striking the metaphor, it should have done it right the first time! Damn, but only if … !

Coulee Dam has an opportunity. Over the past four years the city has worked to maximize the franchises benefits and protect the municipality. In 2014, Coulee Dam changed the governmental form — from a “town” to a “city” — to ensure the full provision(s) allowed by the state, including operations and control of franchises and broadband ownership. Also, and in order to recover unpaid franchise and fees, Coulee Dam assumed and acquired the (a) Asset Buy-Sale Agreement in December 2017. In essence, the City is already now operating a 96-strand fiber/broadband enterprise as part the City’s electric fund. The initial asset-acquisition was an investment in recovery of/from lost charges and fees AND to ensure that any ongoing “gift-of-funds” matters are resolved. Beyond that, the City has a plethora of future benefits, including investments for electric rate reductions to a full-service broadband enterprise. The city has a unique opportunity if it’s properly planned and implemented. In short, working with applicable stakeholders (including individual homeowners), can be significantly benefitted. If you properly strategize the benefits of the investment, the city can help change the communications paradigm … broadband/fiber for inter- & intra-personal telephonic services, internet services, streaming entertainment, hosted meetings/presentations, cost-effective television options, enhanced shopping and banking, and a host of other applicable benefits.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Before jumping off the deep end, there’s a host of other matters to be resolved: find/select appropriate stakeholders, selecting a good communications consultant, and working with the community before assumptions and presumptions. Using the new/current foundation (the existing city-owned fiber), it may better to develop and serve the private sector, possibly some sort of wholesale through another operator, the sale of portions of our fiber, commercial services (local, regional, state-wide, or even international), etc.

The city’s success for an enterprise of this nature requires a mix of science AND art — understanding the strategy is a make-or-break procedure. Preempting options from an inept “survey” by the city mayor and council is/was a very, very bad decision!

F. Gregory Wilder

Mayor (retired)


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