City and community leaders gathered on the front lawn of Muscatine Power and Water’s Cedar Street offices Wednesday, April 12 to officially kick off construction of MP&W’s Fiber to the Home project. In speeches ahead of the actual digging, spokespeople from MP&W, City of Muscatine, GMCCI, and the project contractor described in detail the advantages of fiber technology, how the work will be completed, and how access to fiber will position Muscatine positively for the future.
General Manager Sal LoBianco welcomed the audience of around 100, recalling how in 1997, citizens voted overwhelmingly to create the municipal communications utility so as not to fall behind communities with advanced capabilities.
“Today, MP&W is launching the next chapter in delivering on that voter mandate — to not let this City fall behind and be disadvantaged when it comes to advanced communication services, LoBianco said. “Muscatine will become a ‘Gigabit community’ — one of the first cities in the nation able to offer 1000-Megabit broadband to every communications customer — along with advanced Internet Protocol TV services, and, shortly, a new Voice over Internet telephone service.”
His perspective was shared by Water, Electric and Communications Trustees Board Chair Susan Eversmeyer: “Providing Gigabit Internet service to a community of our size will help ensure that Muscatine continues to stay on the cutting edge of technology for both our residential and business customers.”
“As a Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development entity, we’ve just been offered a tool,” said Greg Jenkins, GMCCI President and CEO.
Gregg Mandsager, City Administrator of Muscatine spoke to the progress of Muscatine, saying, “We have Mississippi Drive Corridor, Grandview Corridor, the Merrill Hotel, Riverfront Master Plan, and on and on — and MP&W is a vital partner in each and every one of those projects.” “Now we have MP&W’s Fiber to the Home project. Few cities have city-wide fiber, and most of those are considerably larger than Muscatine. The fact that we are about to break ground on a 100% fiber-optic network in a community our size is an opportunity we need to seize upon.”
Muscatine Mayor Diana Broderson focused on Muscatine’s youth. “That is why we are here today: to give our community, and especially our young people, a leg up, to empower our youth to be the next innovators, and scientists, and leaders who will make 22nd century Muscatine an even better place to live than it is today.”
MP&W’s Director of Utility Service Delivery Tim Reed explained some of the construction details. Crews from Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG) arrived in Muscatine earlier in the week and began working on main overhead communications lines. Underground crews will join the project in early May to continue mainline work.
“As we head into summer, additional crews will be working on both aerial and underground drops to homes and businesses,” said Reed. “Initially, they will only need access to yards to either hang or bury fiber, but later this summer, the part that everyone is really excited about, we will begin moving from neighborhood to neighborhood. At that time, MP&W will contact customers in affected areas to arrange for the in-home installations.”
AEG has significant experience building city-wide fiber and their Vice President, Jimmy Salter, was also in attendance and spoke to the crowd. “We’ve seen firsthand how fiber can change a community. Without reservation, this is going to be a game-changer.”
Wrapping up, Erika Cox, MP&W Community and Employee Relations Director, spoke about how fiber will be the essential connection for the growing Internet of Things. “Just think of the number of internet-capable devices you have in your home now. Compare that to what you had just a few years ago. Now imagine what you will have in a few years more. The prediction is the average family home will have 50 internet devices in just a few short years!”
Cox thanked the local media present for helping MP&W spread the word. Now that construction has started, making sure customers are informed of progress will be important. She reminded everyone that Customer Service and HelpDesk personnel are available to answer questions by phone, email, and in person. MP&W also has answers to frequently asked questions on its website, mpw.org, and will be publishing regular updates there and on Facebook and Twitter feeds.
The utility will also be producing instructional and informational videos which will air on cable channels, website, and social media. Cox encouraged customers who would like to receive special email updates and other helpful information to become Fiber Fans by signing up online at mpw.org/fiberfans. Fiber Fans were invited to the groundbreaking, and several were present for the ceremony.