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How will high-speed internet get to small towns? One example can be found in Carroll, a city of 10,000 in west central Iowa that is being completely rewired with fiber optic cable. It’s an $11 million project that will be mostly funded with a $10 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It will be a total overbuild,” said Wesern Iowa Networks CEO Steve Frickenstein.

WIN officials estimate that Internet speeds will be 10 to 20 times faster with their fiber than what most businesses and homes in Carroll have now. Chuck Deisbeck, chief operating officer with WIN, says the company’s fiber lines will allow customers to receive many forms of voice and video, from television (with an unlimited potential for channels and programming) to phone service to new products that WIN plans to unveil soon. The overbuild is expected to be finished by spring 2010.

“Broadband is today what asphalt and concrete were to us in the 1920s,” said Carroll Area Development Corp. executive director Jim Gossett. “Plain and simple, that’s what it is. We’re going to be well above standards set by people who make decisions to locate their businesses and families.” More than 2,000 voice access lines, more than 1,000 data lines and nearly 900 video subscribers are expected to be served.The $10 million loan is coming from the federal Broadband Loan Program, which targets rural areas. Terms of the USDA loan are that WIN pay for the project then be reimbursed.

Douglas Burns

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