Aug. 8—EAU CLAIRE — The broadband business may be about to get more competitive in Eau Claire.
TDS Telecom, a Madison-based national broadband service provider, is seeking to install a $30 million fiber optic network in Eau Claire so it can offer high-speed internet, television and telephone service to residential and business customers.
The Eau Claire City Council is set to vote Tuesday on a memorandum of understanding with TDS for the construction of an extensive fiber optic network that would serve all neighborhoods in Eau Claire. The agreement outlines permits, approvals and other considerations for TDS to install fiber optic cable and equipment throughout the city.
Under the proposal, construction would start this year but take two to three years to complete.
The company, which is not seeking public funds for the project, would own and operate the network. The proposal calls for TDS to locate the network facilities underground to the greatest extent possible.
City officials have been wanting to see a project that brought fiber optic cable right to individual homes and businesses for a while, so they were pleased when TDS approached them with the proposal, said Bob Nelson, the city’s information technology manager.
“It’s another broadband provider and that fiber to the home is the big thing,” Nelson said. “We’re excited about it.”
TDS, which is in the midst of a major expansion push, is installing a similar network in the Fox Valley that when completed will have capacity to connect 60,000 addresses in Appleton, Little Chute, Kaukauna, Kimberly, Menasha and Neenah. The company also is about to launch service in the Wausau and Stevens Point areas, said TDS spokeswoman Missy Kellor.
The company aims to bring competition to places that have been dominated by one broadband provider, she said, adding that TDS anticipates its proposed project would result in the most extensive fiber optic network in Eau Claire.
“We’re continuing to upgrade people’s internet,” Kellor said. “The difference fiber makes is pretty remarkable. It’s like having a really fat bandwidth pipe attached to your home.”
The 53-year-old company provides service in 31 states.
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