The Waukee City Council met on Tuesday night, one night later than their normal date due to President’s Day being Monday. The council saw a presentation from representatives from GRM Networks.
Dave Lewis, a consultant who works for JSI, a consulting firm working with GRM Networks, was on hand at the meeting to present their plan to bring a new gigabit, fiber optic internet to Waukee.
Ron Hinds, the CEO of GRM Networks was also at the meeting to go over specifics of the product, which is called “mi-fiber.” GRM Networks is not new to the business, as they have been in business for over 60 years and their service area includes over 4,500 square miles throughout southern Iowa and northern Missouri, serving 48 communities, according to Hinds.
The internet is “future proof,” according to Lewis and will be able to keep up with the evolving internet needs with new apps and devices being used all the time.
As far as costs go, consumers in Waukee could be paying a similar price to other gigabit providers in the area.
“We’ll be very very competitive with your current providers,” Hinds said. “We compete with Mediacom and they’re in our four largest communities. We’ve competed for years.”
He said that the company was not asking the city to endorse one product over another.
Each home that subscribed to the service would be able to have its own signal, says Lewis.
“What we’re looking to deploy is an active ethernet, so instead of splitting the signal and having people share or vie for that broadband capability, this is a dedicated fiber to every single home, which you have your own committed level of broadband that cannot be impacted by the utilization of other people on that system.”
He said that this is a more expensive option, but that it is essential if they are going to “future proof” the system.
In addition to internet products, GRM Networks is also an experienced provider of TV services, although, Hinds doesn’t foresee them offering those services at first in Waukee. If there is a demand for those services, however, they could eventually be offered.
Hinds said that many people today get their video services over the internet via services like Netflix, Hulu and Youtube.
“We just figured with the younger demographic in Waukee that most of your residents probably utilize video in that respect,” Hinds said.
Hinds said they would divide Waukee in to six “fiberhoods” and, in the past, would need interest from about 40 percent in each fiberhood before they would make the product available to them. Hinds said he doesn’t think that would be an issue in Waukee.
“We have a company board meeting tomorrow and I’m going to propose to get started, that we not wait on that 40 percent,” Hinds said. “We pick out a fiberhood and we go.”
As far as how committed they are to bringing this service to Waukee, Hinds put it plain and simple for the council.
“Unless you tell us you don’t want us to come, we’re coming,” Hinds said.
When asked whether or not there were certain areas of Waukee that would be excluded from having the service put in, Hinds said that it would depend on the demand. Lewis seemed optimistic about all areas of the city.
“The density that exists here in Waukee is very favorable relative to the economic delivery of services,” Lewis said. “We participate in a lot of these all around the country and there are certain areas and certain deployments that you just say ‘that’s not going to happen.’ There are no conspicuous areas here in Waukee where that’s the case.”
The idea of the service coming to Waukee was met with support from the council.
“I would just like to say that this sounds very exciting as one of the lucky few in the city of Waukee that has fiber to their home. It’s amazing,” said Councilman Charlie Bottenberg.
They will start reaching out and identifying a need beginning on April 1.