Agendas and Minutes
The Vilas County Economic Development Corporation states that: "Improved broadband coverage is required for a robust tourism industry and to diversify Vilas County’s economy to attract entrepreneurs, remote workers, and expanding businesses to secure its future".
Internet access throughout St. Germain is generally slow. For instance, homes and businesses served by a Frontier Communications DSL (digital subscriber line not available to all St. Germain locations) typically experience Internet speeds averaging about 5 mbps (megabits per second) for data downloads and about 1 mbps for uploads. The speed varies by volume of traffic on the line at any time and the distance from the home or place of work to the nearest telephone office or substation. The service is provided through existing, inefficient telephone lines.
SCOPE OF PROJECT: A large capacity fiber optic cable was installed by ChoiceTEL of Eagle River from Eagle River to the St. Germain Northland Pines Elementary School in 2019 at the expense of the School District with support of a State grant. The Town is now contracting with ChoiceTEL to tap into that existing cable and provide the following expansion of cable installation service:
1. Install fiber optic cables in rights of way along all State and County highways within St. Germain.
2. Install lateral fiber optic cables along all town and private roads within St. Germain.
3. Install one of the following to every property in St. Germain:
A. Fiber optic cable terminating at the roadway to all properties, including vacant lots, whose owners do not wish to subscribe to ChoiceTEL for high-speed Internet service
B. Fiber optic cable connecting to homes and businesses at every property whose owner wishes to subscribe to ChoiceTEL for high-speed Internet service.
ChoiceTEL will provide the above-described cable installation at a projected cost of $1.2 million. The Town will borrow half that amount ($600,000) with the balance to be paid from a grant already obtained by the Town. The loan will be paid in full over the next two to three years. A temporary hold of one or two years may be put on other Town projects that typically require borrowing of money. Consequently, the Town’s debt will remain at approximately the same level as prior to undertaking this fiber optic project and there will be no increase in property taxes to pay for delivering high-speed Internet service throughout the Town.
Questions & Answers:
ChoiceTEL is quoting an installation cost of $1.2 million to provide fiber optic access to every St. Germain property. Is that a fixed cost or is there a possibility costs will increase?
The project was calculated at current material costs and labor rates. ChoiceTEL does not anticipate any labor rate increases. Moderate material cost increases could occur, but prices of fiber optic cable and related equipment have been historically stable and are not anticipated to change.
Projected costs for the Boulder Junction fiber optic installation is much higher than for the St. Germain project.. Why is that?
Boulder Junction is contracting with a non-local construction company. St. Germain is using ChoiceTEL of Eagle River who has its own construction crew. The efficiencies of this result in substantial savings. Furthermore, ChoiceTEL will also be the Internet Service Provider for customers who connect to their fiber optic system. Therefore, there is an incentive for ChoiceTEL to be highly cost competitive during the cable installation phase.
The projected timeline for cable installation is two to three years. Will there be any time that customers will be without Internet service during the construction period?
No. Furthermore, ChoiceTEL will not wait until all the cable is buried along highways and town roads before beginning to install drop lines to customers. The town will be completed in sections with customer connections being made within each section before starting another section.
What assurance does the Town have that installation will be completed within the projected two to three years?
There are too many variable factors to guarantee the actual timeframe of construction (weather and the duration of frozen ground for instance). ChoiceTEL intends to complete the cable installation and connect customers to high-speed Internet as quickly as possible.
How and where will the cables be buried on private property?
Cable will be buried in roadway rights of way with line drops branching off to homes and businesses. A vibrating plow is used to cut a small trench to bury the cable. Directional drilling, or boring, is also used to go under surfaces that cannot be cut. ChoiceTEL crews will work with property owners to select the best location for bringing the drop lines from roadsides into buildings. All outdoor connections will be made underground. No pedestals will be installed on private properties.
Will property owners be responsible for property repairs after installation?
NOTE TO RENTERS: Residents in rental property and businesses located in rented buidings must have the property owner arrange for cable installation.
It is the responsibility of property owners to inform installation crews of the location of private utilities or underground facilities. ChoiceTEL uses best practices to prevent damages to private underground utility lines. It is the responsibility of the property owner to repair lines that ChoiceTEL crews are not informed of.
What about ground surface restoration after the cable is installed?
ChoiceTEL will drive a machine over the trench to pack it back down. With most installations the trenched area disappears after one or two rainfalls. The property owner is responsible for any additional ground repair deemed necessary.
Do I need to call Digger Hotline before ChoiceTEL will install service?
No, ChoiceTEL will contact Diggers Hotline in advance of installing cable on any property.
What does Diggers Hotline mark on my property?
Diggers Hotline notifies utility companies of underground lines on your property. It is then the responsibility of the utility companies to mark their cables on your property. Electric, Natural Gas, Telephone, and Cable service providers will mark those line up to where the meter or box is on your building. Lines not owned by utility providers, such as water and electric lines between buildings or from drilled wells, electric lines to secondary buildings or outdoor lighting, LP lines, in-ground sprinkler systems, buried dog fence, and other non-public utility underground features are the responsibility of owners to mark.
Is there an extra cost for ChoiceTEL to bury a drop cable for properties with long driveways?
ChoiceTEL will bury up to 400 feet of drop cable at no extra cost. A charge of $0.25 per foot will be charged for distances beyond 400 feet.
Will cable installation at properties with multiple dwellings, such as resorts with various underground utilities be connected the same as residences on separate properties?
Resort properties often have multiple private utilities buried at unknown locations making cable installation to each building very risky and often costly for extensive repairs. ChoiceTEL recommends resorts consider having the buried cable terminate at one point on the property. The resort owner(s) can then install a mesh network to deliver the Internet service wireless to the multiple dwellings. ChoiceTEL does not install mesh networks.
What will ChoiceTEL rates be for Internet service?
Internet service including email will be offered at the following monthly rates:
$39.95 for up to 25 mbps (megabits per second)
$59.95 for up to 50 mbps
$99.95 for up to 100 mbps
Telephone service for anyone wishing to maintain a land line will be available for $20.00 per month
Are faster Internet speeds available for users in need of greater than 100 mbps?
Yes, while most homes and small businesses will find 25 - 100 mbps sufficient, faster speeds up to one gigabit can be provided at a monthly rate to be determined by ChoiceTEL. No revisions of equipment would be necessary.
Do I have to get a phone line from ChoiceTEL to get Internet service?
No, you can subscribe to just Internet service. Telephone service for anyone wishing to maintain a land line will be available for $20.00 per month.
Will ChoiceTEL Internet service include email?
Yes, but it does not have to be used. People using email providers other than Frontier may continue using them. However, users of Frontier email service will probably need to switch to ChoiceTEL (or some other provider) after subscribing with ChoiceTEL.
Will switching to ChoiceTEL for email require new email addresses?
Yes, for instance, John Doe might be able to change his address from firstname.lastname@example.org to email@example.com if that address is available. If not, another address will be selected. ChoiceTEL Customer Service personnel will work with customers to revise their email addresses at the time connection to ChoiceTEL cable occurs.
Will Frontier continue to provide DSL (digital subscriber line) to customers who are satisfied with Frontier service or will Frontier pull out of St. Germain due to loss of customers to ChoiceTEL?
As the “incumbent” Internet service provider, Frontier is prohibited by Federal Communications Commission law from discontinuing service on short notice, so Frontier Internet Service will continue to be available to customers who do not subscribe to ChoiceTEL fiber optic service.
What work will be done inside my home or place of business? Will I need to replace my existing modem or Wi-Fi router?
1. ChoiceTEL will mount an Optical Network Terminal (ONT) within 20 feet of where the drop cable box is on the outside of your house. The ONT requires 120v AC power to operate. There is no cost to install or use the ONT, however ChoiceTEL remains the owner of the ONT and will retrieve it if a customer permanently discontinues their ChoiceTEL subscription.
2. If you have a WiFi router, ChoiceTEL will install Cat5 wire from the ONT to the location of the router, if it is feasible to do. Cat5 would be stapled and visible on finished basement walls and ceilings. The homeowner will need to have an electrician or computer networking company run the cable if they want it hidden inside the walls or ceilings.
3. Most customers having WiFi will need to upgrade their WiFi router to a model capable of handling high-speed Internet.
Since the ONT needs 120v AC to operate, what happens if the power goes out?
The fiber optic cable Internet service will not work until power is restored. Customers have the option of connecting the ONT to an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) or a generator to keep ChoiceTEL’s phone and Internet service working until power is restored.
Can I turn my service off seasonally? Is there a fee for restarting my service?
Internet service can be suspended but it must stay off for a minimum of one month before being turned back on. ChoiceTEL will not charge the monthly Internet subscription fee during periods of customer requested service suspension. However, customers with a ChoiceTEL land telephone line will be charged a monthly $10.00 fee to hold the telephone number during periods of service suspension. There is no fee to have service turned on or off.
Does ChoiceTEL share customer information?
ChoiceTEL will never voluntarily share information about its customers. Only under subpoena will customer information be released and then only to a law enforcement agency.
Will television streaming services such a Roku, Sling, Hulu and others be affected by changing from DSL to a fiber optic Internet connection?
The only affect is that streaming speed will improve significantly.
Can the subscriber request a different connection speed?
Yes, a customer may request a faster or slower connection speed at any time, but the adjusted speed must remain unchanged for a minimum of one month before it can be changed again.
Is there a limit of how much data I can download?
No, all ChoiceTEL Internet plans are based on speed, with no limits on usage.
Will my Internet speed be slowed down if I use too much data like satellite?
No, all ChoiceTEL Internet plans are unlimited use.
Does ChoiceTEL offer 24-hour support?
No, ChoiceTEL offers local phone and email-based tech support only during business hours. ChoiceTEL has an afterhours out of service support number to call in the case of service issues outside of business hours. The tech on call will then look at the situation and if possible, fix the problem or call the customer. Not remembering your Wi-Fi password is not an out of service emergency.
When and how can I commit to subscribing to ChoiceTEL for fiber optic Internet service?
Pre-registration for ChoiceTEL service subscriptions has begun. Go to https://choicetel.net/StGermain and sign up when you are ready.
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