On the final day of his trip to Nebraska, Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr made stops in Fremont and North Bend to talk about the deployment of broadband internet access across the state and region.
While in Fremont, Carr met with Mayor Scott Getzschman and also spent time at the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce and at L.A. Fire Proof Door Co. to learn about broadband access in the city and its effect on the local economy.
“We try to get out of (Washington) D.C. as much as we can to see what we can do to get more broadband and more connectivity across rural America, really all parts of the country,” he said while meeting with Mayor Getzschman at City Hall. “New York and San Fransisco are going to get next-generation connectivity no matter what happens from a regulatory perspective, just because of the population density. But how can we, through regulation, and cutting red tape, and funding, how we can reorient those funds so we get connectivity everywhere.”
Carr, who was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed unanimously by the Senate in 2017, made stops in Stanton and Columbus on Tuesday and was joined by Sen. Deb Fischer.
According to information released by the FCC, Carr’s trip through the Great Plains will also include stops in Iowa and South Dakota and is focused on community broadband deployment in rural communities.
“The trip will focus on rural broadband deployment, including the opportunities it creates in smart agriculture, telehealth, job creation and workforce development,” the FCC stated in a media advisory.
During their meeting, Getzschman spoke about the city of Fremont’s partnership with Great Plains Communications to bring a fiber optic network to the community.
Great Plains Communications made its first foray into laying fiber optic cable in Fremont in 2011, as it built a 10-mile line to support Fremont Health and the City’s technology park.
“Their connectivity to our hospital was amazing what it did, because it actually allowed the hospital to connect with all the doctors and change their entire communication platform,” Getzschman told Carr. “It certainly helped Fremont Health grow and develop.”
Since that time, Great Plains Communications worked with the city and Fremont Public Schools to provide connections between school district buildings with buried fiber in 2013.
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In 2016, in cooperation with Mayor Getzschman, the company completed a fiber build bringing improved internet and phone service over their fiber to businesses along Main Street in Downtown Fremont.
One of the businesses who utilizes Great Plains Communications fiber optic line is through downtown is L.A. Fire Proof Door Co., which is owned by Roxie Kracl.
After meeting with Getzschman and Chamber Director Tara Lea, Carr and a group of Great Plains Communications representatives stopped into the local bar and restaurant to speak with Kracl about how that service has affected her businesses.
Kracl told Carr about how the fiber line has allowed her to coordinate the POS (point-of-sale) systems between her three businesses which include: L.A. Fire Proof Door Co, Irv’s Deli, and The Rox/Shooters Saloon.
“We were having so many problems with the internet services before and once it went down we really couldn’t do anything,” she said. “Everything is done through the internet line anymore, so having that reliability has been a huge difference.”
While meeting with Lea, Carr spoke about project’s like the fiber line that was run throughout downtown, and other broadband deployments, and their effect on a community’s economic opportunity.
“Broadband is just such a great economic enabler and we have to continue to work in D.C. to deploy it in these types of communities because the upside is just tremendous,” he said. “One of the biggest questions for me is how to strike a balance and continue to respect local control and local authority, with how to create a federal policy that is going to promote deployment everywhere.”
Lea also stressed the importance of fiber lines throughout the Fremont area and outlying communities and how that access has facilitated economic growth locally.
“The opportunity for our new businesses to have that option where they can get broadband and can get the speed they need is important,” she said. “It helps a business run more smoothly.”
Following his trip to Fremont, Carr traveled to North Bend to tour Ruzicka Farms and its facility while discussing the impact broadband is having on agricultural applications in the area and region.