Hills-based Sharon Telephone Company has begun rolling out Fiber-to-the-Home technology to residents and businesses of rural Lone Tree, a continuation of their effort to provide broadband internet …
Hills-based Sharon Telephone Company has begun rolling out Fiber-to-the-Home technology to residents and businesses of rural Lone Tree, a continuation of their effort to provide broadband internet services to unserved or underserved zones in the area. Their current project, which covers an area from Hwy 6 on the south side of Iowa City to about a mile south of Hwy 22, and from Hills to about a mile east of Lone Tree, is expected to be completed in mid-November.
Funding for the $7.2 million project comes in part from state grants; the remaining $3.1 will be paid for by the company itself. STC has also elected to invest another $700,000 to provide service to an additional 160 locations, bringing their own investment close to $4 million. The end result will be over 500 locations provided with broadband service.
“We can provide up to a gig on that fiber, so the network is very reliable. It’s long term,” STC general manager Scott Havel said. “We can provide up to 10 gigs, actually, if people wanted that. It’s not one of our normal offerings, but we have equipment in place that can provide that, so it pretty much future-proofs that whole area.”
The company is committed to providing exceptional local service, and with the help of state grant funds, is able to offer that to more customers.
“The state has done a fabulous job,” Havel said. “I think yesterday I saw $700 million in broadband grant funding that they’ve done in the last ten years, so the state’s been very forward thinking with rural broadband. Now there’s a big federal program that’s coming up behind that that is going to provide $470 million to the State of Iowa to do additional broadband expansion. I think the state recognized it early.”
“Iowa is miles ahead of lots of even surrounding states, just in having our [Office of the Chief Information Officer] set up and going so they can administer those grants,” Katie Miller, customer development manager, says. “The resources we as telephone companies have available to us through that office is far superior to what our counterparts in other states have.”
To be eligible for grant funding, internet providers must comply with cybersecurity requirements, something STC eagerly embraces.
“It’s becoming a bigger and bigger issue,” Havel said. “We already do quite a bit with cybersecurity, but this kind of puts a little meat on the bones, where you have to do some reporting and they actually check to make sure you’re doing things.”
Havel adds that the internet service STC provides today is all underground fiber that for the most part utilizes ring technology, meaning “if there’s ever a fiber cut on one part of the network, it’ll just flip around and go the other way. That doesn’t mean nobody’s ever going to not have service, because we do have some smaller linear routes, but as far as our major network, we’ve done everything we can do. We’ve hardened, we put generators everywhere.”
This is all great news for those served by STC, which now includes customers in Lone Tree.
“If you have power, you’re probably going to have internet,” Havel said.
To learn more about STC’s fiber internet service and its service area, visit sharontc.com or call 319-679-2211.