Decorah Fiber – FAQ’s

Will service be available outside of the Decorah city limits?

While the current plan is to build a fiber network within the city itself, we understand that the community of Decorah does not stop at the city limit boundaries. We are hoping to work with possible partners to improve connectivity outside of the city and help bridge the “digital divide”.

Will you have data caps or allowances on your internet service?

No. Decorah’s fiber internet service will allow unlimited usage for all customers without overages or data caps.

Will this make my taxes increase?

No. A Decorah fiber network will be financed using revenues from the people who use it. That’s the same way our water utility works today…no tax dollars involved. If you don’t use it, you don’t pay for it.

What other communities have built their own fiber networks?

A lot! Just here in Iowa, we have communities larger than Decorah (Cedar Falls, Indianola, Waverly, Spencer, Muscatine) and smaller (Bellevue, Coon Rapids, Lenox) that have built or are building fiber networks. In addition, we have over a dozen other Iowa communities that have successfully operated hybrid fiber‐copper networks successfully for over 20 years.

Decorah is not alone in its efforts to consider a community‐owned fiber network. Other Iowa communities that are also in the process include Charles City, New Hampton, Pella, and Adair. It is expected that some of these cities will be building their own fiber networks in 2018.

Why would a city‐owned fiber network be better than what we have today?

During the past 3 years, city leaders and community advocates have talked to hundreds of Decorah citizens about their experience with current telecommunications services. They’ve told us that service is often unreliable, speeds are less than what is advertised, and the customer service experience leaves a lot to be desired. Those are problems that a new, community‐owned fiber network can solve for the benefit of the entire community.

I’m concerned about Net Neutrality. What can a Decorah Fiber network do to protect an open internet?

As a publicly owned provider, the city of Decorah will not engage in any practices that would block, throttle, or prioritize any traffic on our network. We believe the internet must remain free and open.

I’ve signed the pledge! Now, when can I get service from Decorah Fiber?

If enough people sign the Decorah Fiber Pledge, it will give us confidence that a community fiber network is a feasible project. The next steps would include finalizing a business plan, creating a financing plan, and hiring an engineering firm to design the network. It is possible that, if all goes smoothly, we could begin building Decorah Fiber in 2019!

Decorah Fiber – News Release

NEWS RELEASE

Decorah Fiber Pledge Campaign to Measure Interest in Building a Community Fiber Network 

Decorah, IA (August 8, 2018) – The City of Decorah and the Decorah Telecommunications Utility Commission are asking citizens to express their support for a community-owned fiber optic network by signing the Decorah Fiber Pledge.

The Decorah Fiber Pledge, launched on August 1st, asks residents and businesses to commit to switching their telecommunications services to the city network when it is built.

“I want the City of Decorah to build and operate a state-of-the-art fiber optic network and provide internet, cable television, and telephone service to citizens. By my electronic signature below, I pledge to switch some or all of my residential telecommunications services to the City fiber utility within 12 months of the date they become available at our address.”

Jarrad Walter, chair of the Decorah Telecommunications Utility Commission, says the fiber pledge is designed to measure what the likely take-rates would be for a city project.
“Surveys are helpful, and the survey conducted during the original feasibility study showed strong support. But the fiber pledge campaign will give us even better projections to use in the business plan,” says Walter.

The Commission is currently working with CCG Consulting on a revised business plan that will bring the project’s financial viability into sharper focus. As part of that process, the Commission worked closely with CCG to develop proposed pricing for internet, cable tv, and telephone services.

The Commission’s goal is to build a network that can provide better service for a competitive price. If enough homes and businesses take the fiber pledge it will give the Commission confidence that a community fiber project will be successful financially and allow the fiber-to-the home project to continue moving forward with planning.

The Decorah Fiber Pledge is being conducted online at the following website: www.ourbroadbandfuture.com/decorah. Two pledge forms are available on the site; one for residential customers and the other for business customers. Persons responsible for broadband decisions at their home and business are encouraged to fill out both pledge forms. On the page for each pledge form are the proposed prices for internet, cable tv, and telephone services.

Jim Fritz is with Decorah Fast Fiber, the citizens group that has advocated for a community broadband network for the past three years. The group’s effort resulted in a 93% positive vote in the telecommunications referendum in November 2015. Fritz says the group is hoping that Decorah citizens will show the same kind of community spirit with the fiber pledge as they did with the referendum.
“We strongly encourage everyone to take the Decorah Fiber Pledge to show your support for a community-owned fiber network to bring better broadband to everyone.”

Jarrad Walter, Chair, Telecommunications Utility Commission

Chad Bird, City of Decorah, City Manager

Iowa Flood Center Presentation – UPDATED 09-11-2018

July 18, 2018

In the review and consideration of the Menards application for rezoning and site plan development, the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission and the decision of the City Council must be supported by “facts” and “evidence”, not presumptions.  The Commission will make an official record of its evaluation of the rezoning petition, including a review of the various factors it considers in making its final decision.   The Commission’s review will include a findings of fact.  The Commission’s recommendation to the Council on the rezoning application should apply the Comprehensive Plan, City Code and I.C.A. §414.3 to its findings of fact to support its recommendation.

This presentation by the Iowa Flood Center is part of the Commission’s due diligence in reviewing Menards’ rezoning application. As part of its formal report to the Council, the Commission’s analysis must include applying the Iowa Flood Center’s modeling regarding Menards’ Site Plan, the Wal-Mart store, and the city’s 100yr and 500yr flood plain to the Comprehensive Plan, City Code and I.C.A. §414.3. This presentation is part of that process. To view a PDF file of the presentation slides please click on the link below.

Iowa Flood Center July 18, 2018 Slides

Final Phase II Iowa Flood Center Model September 10, 2018

 

 

Decorah Fiber – Background

In November 2015, an overwhelming majority of Decorah citizens (94%) voted YES to the formation of a municipal telecommunications utility. The measure was supported by the community so strongly because of dissatisfaction with current providers and the strong belief that bringing 21st century broadband infrastructure to Decorah was vital to the community’s future growth and success.

A feasibility study was conducted to provide guidance on the likely cost of a network as well as overall financials. To continue our evaluation Decorah has retained one of the country’s most respected telecommunications consultants, CCG Consulting, to refine the original feasibility study and provide a more detailed analysis of costs and benefits. The other part of this new effort is to identify the customer base through a pledge form campaign.

The future of better broadband is in your hands! Take the Decorah Fiber Pledge to show your support for a community-owned fiber network to bring better broadband to everyone. Go to www.ourbroadbandfuture.com/decorah to find out more about the project, our planned services and prices, and to take the pledge!

Background Conditions Regarding City Water and Sewer Rate Increases

For several years during annual city budget work sessions the budget & finance committee and the utility committee have been discussing the financial condition of the water and sewer utility funds.  The situation is complex and this paper will attempt to explain three key issues impacting the utilities; insufficient utility revenues, lower water consumption history, and initiatives aimed at cost containment.

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Compost Site To Open April 1st

The City of Decorah’s Compost Site will be opening April 1, 2018.  In anticipation of spring clean-up, the site will have extended hours during the month of April.

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Municipal Utility Feasibility Studies

Several feasibility studies have been conducted regarding a proposed Decorah Electric Municipal Utility. Over the past several weeks, culminating in a Town Hall meeting on Saturday, February 10, 2018, the city council asked residents of the community to submit their questions regarding the municipalization of the electric utility process. The questions were gathered and submitted to both Alliant Energy and Decorah Power representatives. Their responses are linked below for review.

Additional questions regarding the proposed municipal utility can be directed to Chad Bird, City Manager at (563) 382-3651 or via email at citymanager@decorahia.org.

 

Telecommunications Feasibility Study

On September 18, 2017, the Decorah Telecommunications Utility Board presented to the city council a summary of the feasibility study conducted by Uptown Services, LLC.  The feasibility study itself provided information on four core areas: Market Analysis, Technology Strategy, Design, and Capital Budget; Incumbent and Proposed FTTP Offerings; and Pro Forma Financial Analysis.   Continue reading

City Council Video Library Available Online

The City of Decorah has established an online audiovisual library for it's council meetings.  Current and archived videos can be accessed on the City's You Tube channel.