The city of Plummer is getting closer to having fiber internet.
Crews from DePatco and Zero DB Communications are working around the city to install cables that will serve area schools, municipal buildings and residents who sign up for service.
The project was made possible by the Idaho Broadband Grant program that provided approximately $913,000 to improve educational access. That became a priority due to COVID-19 leading to school closure in the spring.
“The primary concern of this project when I was helping write the grant was educational access. Still is, particularly now that we’re back in a modified stage-two posture from the governor’s office. A lot of schools are having to go back to distance learning, and one big hurdle for our school district was student/household access to school/work last spring when this stuff started,” Mayor Weems said.
Due to the virus, the demand for the materials to build the network could have terminated the project.
“The stuff was ‘flying off the shelves,’ literally, and we had to scramble to make sure our orders were filled for said materials in a reasonable time. It was looking dicey there for a while early on,” Mayor Bill Weems said.
The materials secured; Mayor Weems expects the project to be done by the deadline of Dec. 15, 2020.
“We’re confident we’re going to make that deadline,” he said.
The project’s focus is on the city proper and then will expand outward without having to limit coverage as proposed in September.
“…we shouldn’t have to pull back any “coverage,” but I’m exercising caution just to be safe,” Mayor Weems said.
The project will also enhance communications for emergency services and improve the efficiency of city utilities. According to Mayor Weems, the city will eventually be able to connect its entire utility infrastructure, sewer plant, library, and various other services for communication, monitoring and control.
So far, the only provider operating on the new fiber network is Red Spectrum but that could change.
“…there are enough strands that should other ISP’s want to come in they can compete,” Mayor Weems said.
The mayor said he is not aware of other potential providers as of this publication.
Ziply Fiber, formerly Frontier, is expected to either move their lines to new poles or remove their equipment. It is not clear what impact their removal would have on landline phone service in the area. Ziply Fiber could not be reached for comment by time of this publication.