Can Decorah's Metronet—the network of high-speed fiber optic cable being installed to serve local governments—also be used to help spur economic development in the area?
That's the possibility being discussed by members of the Downtown Decorah Betterment Association, which met Wednesday with Decorah City Manager Chad Bird and Decorah City Engineer Lindsay Erdman to get an update on the project.
Since the Metronet board agreed to install 144 strands of fiber optic cable instead of the 72-strand cable initially proposed, the system has a lot of extra capacity. Some of that extra bandwidth could be sold to Internet Service Providers in the area. Bird told the DDBA board that three such companies have already contacted the Metronet board. There are definite economic development possibilities for the Metronet, he said, including perhaps the creation of a business incubator for Internet-based businesses that need high speed service. "Those are the exciting things," he told DDBA members.
But Erdman cautioned that the Metronet board is "way, way away from that." The board has first been concentrating on getting the Metronet system up and running. Erdman says while the other possibilities have been brought up at Metronet board meetings, those possibilities will have to wait until a little further down the road.