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City of Ottumwa looking to expand fiber optic opportunities

Published: Nov. 10, 2020 at 4:07 PM CST
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - The city of Ottumwa is working to expand its fiber optic network, giving residents easier access to high-speed internet.

Ottumwa is behind neighboring cities when it comes to having access to quality, high-speed internet. That’s according to city administrator, Phillip Rath, who says the city is now working to expand its fiber optic opportunities.

“A year, two years ago, we were at 3G. Now, we’re up to 5G is what they’re talking about. So, it’s just we’re behind the pace of where we need to be. This is something that benefits quality of life, it benefits the ability to have businesses,” said Rath.

Working towards developing efficient, high-speed internet is something that has been highlighted in the city’s comprehensive plan for 2021. The need id even more magnified now, given the nature of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Retailers locally are going online. The brick and mortar stores are starting to go by the wayside. A lot more online sales and opportunities. You need to have the ability for people to do that in a quick manner,” Rath explained.

The expanded network will allow for schools, businesses, and eventually residents to be better connected. It will also bring the opportunity for several internet vendors to be on the network, potentially lowering internet costs for buyers.

"Being able to connect city properties to each other, connecting school properties to each other. Just working with our community partners to improve the access for all. One of the main projects is building out the backbone for the skeleton and being able to branch off from there,” Rath said.

Rath estimates that it could be 6-18 months before businesses and schools see improved point-to-point services. And it could be even longer than that for residents to see the same progress.

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