Great Plains Communication announced that it has completed the first phase of its large-scale fiber build into Fremont.
The approximately $300,000 project involves more than 10 miles of buried fiber throughout the city.
Great Plains and American Broadband each announced in October their intentions to run fiber optic lines to the Fremont Technology Park at no cost to the city, and both providers already have the first businesses hooked up.
"Fremont actively went out and sought companies to come in, so the demand is there, which is why Great Plains built this," Great Plains Network Account Manager Jeff Mason said.
"We came in from North Bend through Ames into Fremont from the west," he said.
A couple businesses along the way were hooked up, he said. Following phases will involve fiber being built out to various areas of the community.
Timing for those phases, Mason said, depends upon customer acquisition and weather.
"Great Plains is only delivering commercial business-to-business, so we're not going after residential business at all," Mason said.
Communications Specialist Heather Nasif said Great Plains will first focus on "anchor institutions," like hospitals, schools and government institutions.
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"You tend to want to go after those first, and then once that infrastructure is built it's much easier to target commercial businesses," Nasif said.
"We want to focus on the business side because we think there is this really vibrant possibility for economic development here, and that's going to happen with the businesses first," she said.
The Fremont City Council on Oct. 11 gave American Broadband permission to occupy property at the technology park.
American Broadband Director of Operations Joe Jetensky said his company was building fiber to the property, where a hut will serve as a hub for the company's fiber operations in Fremont.
Starting in 2012, American Broadband will take a phased approach to extending services to other locations in town, but businesses along the main fiber route would be hooked up now.
One of the first businesses American Broadband hooked up was Sid Dillon Chevy, where Business Manager Tony Niday said Internet speeds previously slowed business.
"The decision for us to make the switch was easy," Niday said. "The biggest need we had was increased speed, and the fiber-ethernet technology from American Broadband has more than delivered."
"It was tremendously simple to switch over, and we had absolutely no interruption to our business," he said. "In addition, this technology gives us the capability to expand and grow. Traditional technology through modems just can't handle that."
Nasif, who recently attended the Broadband Connecting Nebraska Conference in Lincoln, said she's excited about broadband's role in economic development.
"They had people from across the entire state talking about what broadband has meant to them," she said. "We're very excited to start looking into what broadband is going to bring to Fremont."
"Until now these businesses haven't had the opportunity to have up to 10 gigabytes of Internet, and that can really revolutionize how you do business, how you interact, the scope of business you can have, and the scope of technology you can bring, especially when you start looking at e-commerce and you can process so many more payments, and you can load up a much more rich site that people can access," she said.
Nasif said Great Plains hasn't been approached to assist in recruitment for the technology park, "but we are actually very well versed as a company in helping with economic development, as well as building data centers. We actually have our own fully functional data center (in Blair), and we've got a backup recovery site in Herman."
"We do have a history of helping the towns we're in," she said. "We're very committed to economic development in the towns where we go, so if we are contacted, if they would find us useful, we will definitely be there."
The project adds to Great Plains' nearly 3,000-mile fiber ring in Nebraska, covering 90 communities as far west as Chadron.
"What's really nice about our fiber ring is it's almost completely redundant, which means that if one portion gets cut off it can reroute, and we don't have to lose that data access," Nasif said. "We have plans to make Fremont completely redundant, which will also be very good for data centers, you can't have that stop and start."
More than 95 percent of the company's fiber network is buried, a safer and more aesthetically pleasing option than aerial fiber, Mason said, because it protects cable from potential damage that can cause outages.