Western Iowa Networks Wants To Bring Fiber Internet To Glenwood

Fiber line is buried north of Glenwood in 2021.

A proposed partnership between the city and county could provide Glenwood residents and businesses with a new high-speed fiber optic internet option.

Western Iowa Networks (WIN), the Breda, Iowa based company that has been installing fiber optic lines for its broadband service in rural areas of Mills County for the past two years, is now interested in coming to Glenwood.

“We have a desire to be in the town of Glenwood and provide fiber services,” WIN CEO Jeff Roiland told members of the Glenwood City Council last week.

Roiland said the start-up cost to bring their service to Glenwood is estimated at $500,00. WIN has utilized funds available from the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program to bring fiber optics to several areas in western, central and eastern Mills County.

Rural broadband was a major component of federal COVID-19 relief funding, including the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. However, state dollars would not be available to bring the service to Glenwood because high-speed internet service is already available through other providers, most notably Mediacom and CenturyLink.

“There’s typically no funding from the state or federal (governments) because the city is considered a served location,” Roiland said.

The proposal discussed at last week’s council meeting would have the city and county each contributing $250,000 to help cover the start-up costs. Roiland said the county has contributed $1.5 million to help bring the service to other areas of Mills County and is interested in partnering with the city to bring the service to Glenwood.

Mills County Auditor Carol Robertson and County Supervisor Richard Crouch were in attendance at the meeting and confirmed the county’s interest.

“We would love to see all of Mills County on the map, including the city of Glenwood,” Robertson said. “We didn’t really want to do the $500,000 on our own for the city of Glenwood. We wanted to have a partnership.”

Crouch said the supervisors don’t want Glenwood to feel “snubbed” because the county provided funding to bring the service to other areas of the county.

“We thought it would be a good idea to offer this because we’re also pushing this into the other cities around the county,” he said. “We thought, ‘Wait a minute, we have citizens in Mills County that live in Glenwood. Let’s come and see what we can do and what we can work out.’”

Robertson and Crouch both stated that the service has been well received in Mills County.

Members of the city council expressed interest in discussing the partnership. The possibility of using some of the city’s unused American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars as its contribution was mentioned. The city still has nearly $780,000 of its approximately $800,000 in allocated ARPA funds.

“I would like to continue exploring this,” council member Holly Jackson said.

Council member Jeremy Rodman said he believes the service would be well received in Glenwood.

“We have a lot of citizens that would like to have home fiber because they have home businesses,” he said.

Monthly cost for the service would range from around $50 a month to $100, depending on the level of service, Roiland said.

Roiland broached the idea of WIN and the city signing an agreement that would refund a percentage of the city’s contribution over a designated period of years, similar to the arrangement the company has with the county.

Roiland said WIN is paying back the county 25% of its $1.5 million investment over five years.

The Opinion-Tribune

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