GigaCity project close to offering service

Ariana van den Akker/The Herald
Brian Redman, front, and Carl Leonard, both of Mitchell, buried line last week for new high-speed Internet service being planned for Jasper by Smithville Communications. The crew was working on the corner of St. Charles Street and Pleasant View Drive.


JASPER — Officials from a Monroe County communications company will soon be ready to begin connecting neighborhoods to a fiber network that will provide potential customers in Jasper as much as one gigabyte of high-speed Internet service.

Which neighborhoods will be connected first will depend on demand.

Smithville Telecom, a subsidiary of Smithville Communications of Ellettsville, is installing fiber-optic lines throughout the city.

The company will announce in mid-October the first six neighborhoods eligible for the service. Which one of those six will be first will depend on how many people in those neighborhoods preregister for service, said Dave Brodin, chief technology officer for Smithville.

“We’re going to follow in order of demand,” he said. “Eventually every fiber build-out will be done.”
About 70 percent of the trunk ring surrounding the city has been installed. The ring is the network of cabling through which the digital service will move.

“The ring is what provides redundancy in the area,” Brodin said. “That’s what the (digital) traffic is traveling around. The traffic will be moving pretty quickly on that ring.”

The ring is made of three-fourth-inch conduits that have fibers inside; each conduit holds 144 fibers. “The fibers are very thin,” Brodin said.

Most of the ring will be buried underground using a boring machine; a conduit that is about 2 inches wide will be installed and hold the smaller three-fourth-inch conduits. Some of the ring will be above ground, with the conduits being strung across poles Smithville has gotten permission to use.

The work remaining to be done on the ring is on the city’s southeast side, Brodin said.

“We expect to be done with the ring before we turn on the first set of customers,” he said.

The company is also working on four network cabinets, which will house networking equipment.

The concrete pad for the first cabinet has been poured at the corner of Kluemper Road and Evans Lane; work has started for placing a second cabinet at the intersection of St. Charles Street and Pleasant View Drive.

“Now that we know where the first cabinets are being placed,” Brodin said, “we can start mapping where fiber would go in those neighborhoods.”

Service will come from the ring, go through one of the cabinets and then be dispensed to orbitals that will be placed in neighborhoods. An orbital looks a lot like a cabinet — it’s also metal — but is about the third of the size of a cabinet. Like a network cabinet, an orbital will sit on the ground.

From there, cabling will run from an orbital to a building that subscribes to the digital service. The location of the orbitals will be determined after the cabinets are placed.

“That’s where the service to the customers will come from,” Brodin said. “The neighborhoods will be served out of those cabinets and orbitals.”

Once the company announces the first six neighborhoods eligible for service, it will announce how people in those neighborhood can preregister for service.

“At the end of one month, the neighborhood that has most registrations will go first,” Brodin said.

Usually, a Smithville representative goes ahead of the construction crew to talk to the residents about the work that will be done in or near their yards.

“Sometimes there is confusion about right of way. A lot of people think they own to the road. But there is a right of way for providers to install lines,” Brodin said. “We like to talk to everybody and tell them there will be a time where it will be messy and assure them that it will be cleaned up.”

After a neighborhood is selected, crews will be in that neighborhood doing construction. That’s likely when residents will hear more directly from workers.

“At that point, there will be quite a bit of interaction,” Brodin said. “Homeowners who want service will have to give permission for us to go across their property.”

Most of the work will be done underground. “But if there is a challenge, like a water line under the yard,” Brodin said, “we don’t want to hit that. So we may have to go in their yard instead.”

Smithville plans to have public information sessions before it starts to connecting buildings to the service.

“One of the big questions people have is, What are you going to do to my home?’” Brodin said. “At the sessions, we will show them the equipment that will be placed on their home and take any other questions.”

The estimated $7 million project, which Smithville is funding, will be finished in three years.


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