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January 24, 2014

Wisconsin Town Debates $27 Million Fiber-optic Network



By Michelle Nicolson
TMCnet Contributing Writer



Looking to improve its economic development prospects and educational opportunities, the small town of Sun Prairie, Wis., (population 29,364) began discussing a potential development of a city-wide $27 million fiber-optic network.

Sun Prairie’s proposed project would connect every home and business, which numbers about 13,550. The plan was developed The Motive Group, a Tennessee-based consulting firm that specializes in utilities and broadband services.

“Technology has become a greater and greater need for both businesses and residents,” said Jonathon Freund, Sun Prairie city council member. “This is an opportunity for us to basically differentiate Sun Prairie from all the other communities in Dane County.”

With connection speeds upwards of 50 times faster than today's common broadband, the fiber-optic network would improve the Internet, phone and television services to city residents and businesses. The overall goal would be to attract new economic investments in the community as well as provide more opportunities for educational services, city officials said.

“Building infrastructure like this positions you within your state, within the U.S., and really globally,” explained Beth Ringley of the Motive Group in a committee meeting about the project. “We're seeing these communities who have done systems like this are getting calls from all over the world from companies that want to come and relocate.”

image via shutterstock 

That’s an intriguing proposition for city council members, who have yet to decide to move forward with the project.

The city and the Motive Group would partner together in a similar manner to other projects where the city fronts money to businesses and partnerships through tax increment financing districts.

However, officials noted the cost of the project is considerable for a small town, ranking as one of the largest in the city of Sun Prairie has ever undertaken.

Residents seem to be in favor of the idea. The Motive Group conducted a survey of Sun Prairie residents and found 88 percent favored fiber services in the city, out of more than 700 responses.




Edited by Ryan Sartor
 
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