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December 16, 2008 4:23 am

Fiber network expected by Dec. 20

Written by Tribune Staff

Powellink manager: 'We want it done well'

If everything proceeds as planned, Powell may have a welcome Christmas present this year —a completed citywide fiber optic network.

Mid-State Consultants, the engineering firm managing the overall project, plans to finish by Dec. 20, according to Powellink Project Manager Ernie Bray.

"They're saying they expect to be done with everything before Christmas,” Bray said.

The completion date specified in the contract is Nov. 5. Since that time, the project has been in the penalty phase.

Bray said the project has been delayed for various reasons. Sometimes crews were waiting for materials to arrive, and there have been a few inclement weather days.

Additional crews were brought in to finish up the fiber network, and they are now splicing fiber, testing and fixing anything that didn't meet specifications during inspection. Bray said his priority is to ensure everything is done according to specification — rather than finish hastily.

“I think everybody wants it done, but we want it done well,” he said. “This is something we absolutely want done right, so we're being meticulous.”

Once the network is completed, a fiber-optic line will run to every home or business in Powell's city limits. The line will run to an empty box installed to the side of each building. The box will remain empty until the owner signs up for service, and then the necessary electronic components will be installed.

To create a citywide fiber-to-the-home project, Powell was divided into 13 zones. While the underground duct in all zones is complete, many of those zones still are being tested.

Tri-County Telephone (TCT) will provide service to customers once the zone in their area is up and running.

A TCT representative said there isn't an exact number available of how many customers have signed up for fiber-optic service.

“The actual number of customers we have is always growing, so an exact number isn't easy to get,” said David Schlenker, TCT enhanced services and sales representative. “But we have seen a very positive response so far and we remain very enthusiastic about the project.”

For a rural area, Powell's fiber optic network is one of the first of its kind, and Bray said it will benefit the community in multiple areas — homes, health care and education.

“As far as the infrastructure, it's going to be a great asset to the community for many decades,” Bray said.

The $4.9-million revenue bond project is a joint venture between the city of Powell and the Northwest Joint Powers Board, along with private sector partners. The $3.3-million physical construction is overseen by Mid-State Consultants. The general contractor is MasTec Inc.

For more information, call the Powellink office at 764-6500.