Fiber network nearly realityPublished 9:13pm Thursday, January 19, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — A long-anticipated fiber network to improve internet access reaches here this summer.
Thursday night the Cass County Board of Commissioners approved a five-year, 40 Mbps installation and internet service agreement with Merit Network Inc.
While commissioners are pleased by its economic development potential, Vice Chairman Ed Goodman joked that Information Systems Director Kerry Collins “is so excited as a geek, he’s drooling.”
Merit, a non-profit Michigan company, was awarded a $33.3 million federal stimulus grant funding installation of a 955-mile fiber cable through 32 counties to improve broadband offerings for underserved communities.
“We have been granted the opportunity to become an anchor point for the fiber network,” Collins said. “Merit proposed to install the fiber to our building for a $750 fee during the initial fiber construction phase through Cassopolis. If we wait and later choose to install the fiber their charge is $21,500. The monthly fee for internet access is $1,388 for 40 Mbps.”
“Reliable internet is a foundation for being able to take advantage of new technologies that provide for efficiencies in how we do business,” according to Collins. “It is also necessary to being able to partner with other non-profit entities to share computer services.”
Collins said not only is internet access a necessity for e-mail and searching web pages, but is “critical when you want to leverage new technologies, like cloud-based computing. These services allow the use of software hosted by servers that we do not need to purchase or maintain. However, it does require that the internet connection is always available in order to limit disruptions.”