Updated: May 24
MOUND CITY – KwiKom Communication Operations Manager Eric Vogel and Business Development Director John Terry told the Linn County Commission on Monday, May 2, that they would have to stick with their original proposal for installing broadband along the west side of Linn County.
The original proposal submitted last month was to install broadband service to 399 subscribers in Parker, Goodrich, Centerville, and Blue Mound, including a few sites outside of the cities. The total cost will be almost $1.12 million with Linn County paying almost $560,000 for a 50/50 match.
A Peoples Telecommunications proposal submitted to the county last month indicated it would make 150 connections going to Parker for the total cost of almost $419,000. The proposal included the county paying almost $335,000 for its 80 percent of the match.
While the commissioners had asked both KwiKom and Peoples Telecommunications General Manager Jennifer Leach to come to the meeting this week with adjusted proposals, Leach was not able to attend because she was out of town.
Vogel said that he would like to reiterate that KwiKom appreciates the opportunity to hopefully partner with an investment into the Linn County.
“It is something we care deeply about, and I want to commend the commissioners for focusing on broadband,” said Vogel. “You were talking about selling homes earlier and attracting people into the county. I think this infrastructure is a good way to help with that.”
Vogel said that after looking at the project with taking Parker out, it reduced the subscriber amount by 150 or more than 30 percent.
He said as KwiKom looked to invest in communities, it wanted to make sure that it is sustainable so that it would be here for the next 50 to 100 years.
Removing Parker was too big of a hurdle, and did not leave enough subscribers on the network to sustain it moving forward long term. Vogel noted that they were not asking for the money to get to Parker or for the funding to feed the network.
In a perfect world, we wish KwiKom could build every single project that we come to, and we hope that this doesn’t cause us to lose this opportunity but we have to be fiscally responsible as does the county, said Vogel.
Vogel said that KwiKom was still excited, and he added that hopefully KwiKom can move forward with the project. If the company doesn’t this round of county money, it is not going to discontinue looking at Linn county. KwiKom is working to expand wireless further throughout the county. He said that Kwikom had a few leases in the county that have not been built on yet and that the company is going to continue to try to expand broadband as much as possible.
The company is building the fiber-optic cable with the eye to build out to the farms along that path and throughout the western parts of Linn County that are severely lacking services, he said.
He said the company was looking at a long-term partnership with the county, so it pared down the cost of the proposal as much as it could.
Everybody knows there’s a lot of rock along that path, said Vogel. He said that KwiKom was going to eat whatever overrun it takes. KwiKom is able to do things at a lower cost because of its in-house construction team.
“We are not paying for a third party contractor’s profit,“ Vogel said. “We have to cover those expenses too but that is a level of profit that we do not have to include. It will be local Kansans working on it.”
The commissioners decided to wait until after they have talked with Peoples Telecommunications next week to make a decision.