Friday, December 19, 2014
   
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Recruitment of gfiber affects whole community

Other GIC projects involved job creation

In terms of recruitment, luring a Fiber-to-the-Home network to Gothenburg is a first for the community.

Gothenburg Improvement Company president Mike Bacon summed it up using a quote by GIC treasurer Greg Viergutz.

“He said that everything else has created jobs,” Bacon said. “This is the first time a GIC project has delivered a benefit to everyone in the community if he or she wants to take advantage.”

Bacon said other GIC recruitments, that started with the passage of a half cent sales tax, created jobs and included such companies as Baldwin Filters, Frito-Lay, Monsanto and Dawson Tire & Wheel.

GIC led the charge to recruit a company that could offer high-speed Internet.

That effort culminated in a community celebration and announcement June 25 that gfiber, powered by Pinpoint Communication of Cambridge, was coming to town.

Gfiber will install and operate telecommunication services and offer Internet connection speeds up to one gigabit.

The attempt to recruit such a company began about six or seven years ago, according to GIC board member and school superintendent Dr. Mike Teahon.

Teahon said there were multiple times when GIC thought they’d been successful but “funding didn’t come through on their (the companies’) end.”

“The biggest challenge is that big companies focus efforts and resources in larger communities and smaller companies do not have enough capital to pull it off,” he explained. “Subscriber numbers are also critical as the business has to cash flow to be viable.”

GIC’s infrastructure committee got going on the project and worked for more than five years to bring a high-speed Internet provider to town.

Nate Wyatt, who headed up GIC’s infrastructure team, met Pinpoint Communications, Inc., vice president Tom Shoemaker at a social function last summer and the two discussed fiber infrastructure.

Shoemaker agreed to come to Gothenburg for a community tour and presentation.

After GIC developed and sent surveys to see if local residents would support a new communications company, Bacon said Shoemaker was blown away when 1,244 surveys were returned over a month-long period.

“This shows how it is possible for a community to get fiber infrastructure, no matter the size of the community,” Shoemaker said. “When a community gets behind a project like this, it helps us make a clearer decision on whether or not to invest in the community.”

When completed, by next summer, Pinpoint officials said the network will connect more than 1,400 homes and 150 businesses with a direct fiber connection.

The service will offer residents and businesses speeds of up to one gigabit per second which is about 100 times faster that most people have in their homes.

Full HD video and home phone services are also being offered.

When Chromebooks are rolled out for Gothenburg High School students in the fall semester, Teahon said Internet speed will be critical as students access lessons, homework and even textbooks via the cloud.

“We are also working on strategies to provide for alternative home work sites for students who do not have Internet access in their homes,” he explained.

Because gfiber will be dedicated bandwidth to each home, Teahon said sharing will not be an issue even though an additional 300 to 450 devices added to the network in the evenings has the potential to dramatically slow down shared networks.

Teahon said District 20 plans to join the Pinpoint team but isn’t sure yet how it will work since the school has been part of the Tri-Valley Distance Consortium for 14 years.

The consortium owns the fiber, he said, and the district is part of a state contract.

Bacon describes the recruitment of gfiber to the community as a grand slam home run made possible by the commitment of infrastructure committee members and others to get the word out about the need for a service.

What it means for the community is a storefront (in the former Great Western Bank building) and on-site repair person, he said.

“It will give us the ability to recruit people who want to live in small-town America,” he said. “People can connect digitally to any place in the world.”

The service will also attract new business, Bacon said.

He added that the project wouldn’t have been successful without the buy-in by the community.

“That’s what makes Gothenburg a special place,” Bacon said. “I think that if you explain the need, the community will stand up when needed.

“When it sees the right thing to do, it does it.”

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