Council agenda includes fiber-optics upgrade

Published 9:44 am Monday, January 27, 2014

Among the items on the agenda for Monday’s Niles City Council meeting is the approval of a bid that would connect city buildings to a recently installed fiber optic line.

Ric Huff, city administrator, said the move would ultimately save the city money in telecommunications costs, while potentially making the city more attractive to businesses that consume large amounts of data.

“We have the ability to push extremely broad broadband off of this system, but there are some legal challenges we have to get over before we can get to that because of some of the laws that prohibit municipalities from taking over a function that can be done by private businesses,” Huff said.

Ferguson Michiana, of Eau Claire, submitted the lowest bid of $88,625.

If the council approves the bid, the company will essentially hook up city buildings to a fiber optic line that was installed in September. Buildings to be hooked up include: City Hall, Dial-A-Ride Transportation, Wastewater Treatment Plant, Broadway Substation, Museum, Law Enforcement Complex and the Utilities Service Center.

The project, if approved, would likely begin this spring.

Huff said access to the line could potentially be marketed to residences and businesses near the line, which runs north/south through Niles.

“It will be mostly advantageous to businesses that consume a large amount of data because we can get up into the gigabits speeds to their businesses with internet,” he said.

Examples of businesses that use large amounts of data include telephone answering centers, e-commerce businesses and network support businesses, Huff said.

The new connections will replace the city’s current microwave connections, which are slower and less reliable than fiber optics. Huff said the microwave system will be kept as backup in case the fiber optic line goes down.

The council will also be asked to accept bids for asbestos removal from and the partial demolition of the former public safety building on Broadway Street.