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Home » Archives » July 2012 » Progress On Broadband

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07/05/2012: "Progress On Broadband"


Last week, the County Council passed a revised Wireless Ordinance defining Joint-Use Wireless Facilities. These are facilities that can provide support for multiple public services on one utility pole, including electrical power management and Public Safety radio communications.

The broadband component of these systems could be used to provide true high-speed internet service county-wide, and could help us achieve better cell phone coverage if the cellular providers agree to use these facilities.

The adoption of the Wireless Ordinance was accomplished through a thorough public process that included public testimony, legal review and County Council review.

On the feasibility front, initial technical studies are complete and OPALCO staff members will be field-testing potential equipment and pole locations as we refine the system design.

OPALCO is working with industry experts to develop potential business models for Board consideration " and the numbers continue to be the most challenging aspect of the project.

Meetings to discuss the acquisition of a FCC licensed frequency have been held, and OPALCO is hopeful that an agreement could be reached in the next few months.

Much of the system design (including actual coverage, capacity, number of poles and pole locations) is dependent on the frequency that would be deployed.

Once an agreement is reached for a specific frequency range, a final system design can be developed.

In addition, public forums held on four islands in May were well attended and have started a public dialogue on the project; including how it will be funded. The OPALCO Board is considering concerns that have been raised about the potential cost burden to members, their issues with RF emissions and the potential role of the co-op as an internet service provider.

All feedback is being reviewed as the Board moves toward a decision.


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