Fiber line to beef up access for Lacomb

The internet world is about to change for rural residents who live north of Lebanon and have had poor, if any, access to the internet.

Peak Internet has reached an agreement with the Lebanon School District to provide fiber optic cable to Lacomb Elementary School, according to Rodney Wood, director of Sales and Business Development.

To do that, the company will extend its fiber line from Hamilton Creek School to Lacomb, which means residents within the general vicinity of the line will be able to get connected as the system is developed over the next few years. The line will run west on Berlin, north on Bellinger Scale, east on Mt. Pleasant, then on to Lacomb Drive and the school.

“Basically, the starting point is going to be the existing fiber we have at Hamilton Creek, and we’re going to extend it to Lacomb School,” Wood said.

“Over time, we’re going to be offering fiber to residents who are right off of that road. As economics allow, we will extend fiber into homes off that main build.”

Also, in time, he said, Peak plans to erect poles with “micropop” technology that can provide broadband to people who currently don’t have it, up to two miles away.

Speeds for some customers may exceed what is available to residents in Lebanon, he said. It will be a big change.

He said a similar system installed in Shedd has delivered average speeds of around 40 to 50 megabytes per second in Shedd, “speeds they’ve never seen out there.”

Residents north of Lebanon get 1.5 megabytes per second from DSL, which is not even usable for Netflix, Wood said.

“There is not streaming video. It’s taking a step back 20 years in the world of technology. That’s what is happening in Lacomb today.”

The new system will offer speeds of up to 100 mbps, which, Wood said, is “10 times” what some Lebanon residents have from their providers.

“The really big thing is we’re moving Lacomb into the 21st century,” Wood said. “What will be crazy is a lot of those homes will have faster internet than people living in the middle of town have.”

Costs for high-speed service will range between $100 and $130 a month, he said. Less high-powered options are also available, he said.

He said it could be 10 or 20 years before the system pays off for Peak, “but this is more about serving a community that has been underserved.”

The plan is to have the mainline fiber in by July 1, in order to have things running smoothly by the time school starts in the fall.

The school district has signed a long-term contract for the service, which was foundational to the project, he said.

“A lot of this would not be a possibility if not for the partnership with school district and Consumers Power,” which has infrastructure in place that will facilitate the project. “The school district didn’t put money up front, but they were willing to be an anchor tenant.”

The line will serve Mallard Creek Golf Course and its RV park, patrons of which “expect this.”

“It’s going to change their business out there. Historically, they haven’t had a traditional TV offering.

Response has been enthusiastic, he said.

“People are clamoring,” Wood said. “They’re telling us, ‘If you need a ditch to put stuff in, you tell me and I’ll make it happen.’ I’ve never seen people so hungry for quality internet connection.

“I’ve seen communities that want another option or want cheaper internet. These people just want something.”

Wood said residents with questions are welcome to contact him at (541) 754-7325.