Note: This story appears in the Sunday, May 19 newspaper on Page A3.
Intelliwave, an Athens-based company, has won the right to install infrastructure for broadband internet along the path of the Route 50 sanitary sewer project.
The Athens County Commissioners sent out a request seeking proposals from companies interested in installing broadband internet in conjunction with the sewer project. On Tuesday, the commissioners accepted Intelliwave’s proposal. Commissioner Chris Chmiel said Horizon was the only other company to respond to the request for proposals.
Chmiel said the next step is to enter into an actual contract with Intelliwave.
Previously, Chmiel has said putting broadband conduit in the sewer project area would provide another broadband option for residents and businesses.
Intelliwave will bear the cost of the work. County and sewer project funds will not be used to install the underground conduit through which Intelliwave will string fiber-optic cable.
Installation of the conduit will be done in two phases.
Much of the sewer project makes use of existing public rights-of-way, but it has also been necessary for the county to obtain numerous easements from private property owners. Frank Lavelle, the county’s attorney for the sewer project, said those easements are specific to the sewer project — they allow construction, maintenance and repair of sewer facilities.
As a result, Intelliwave will need to obtain its own easements from property owners, according to the company’s proposal, and that’s the reason for doing the conduit work in two phases. The first phase, which represents coverage of 52 percent of properties in the sewer project area, will only occur in public rights-of-way. The second phase will take place as private easements are obtained.
“The decision to approve or deny easements will be up to the individual property owners and lack of easements may impact our ability to complete construction of the entire sewer project footprint,” states Intelliwave’s proposal. “It is our goal to construct 100 percent of this network to provide service to all residences and businesses along the sewer routes.”
According to the proposal, second-phase conduit work will proceed in areas where easements have been obtained, but will come to a halt if it reaches an area where Intelliwave was not able to get an easement.
Intelliwave will be using equipment that will deliver 1 Gigabyte per second broadband, and will provide active ethernet service to enterprise customers needing service up to 10Gps, according to the company’s proposal.
The proposal describes a “joint trench” project in which the conduit is in the same ditch as the sewer line. On Friday, Intelliwave CEO Chris Cooper said details on how that will work have not been finalized. He said one option would be to install the conduit on an earthen shelf at the edge of the trench.
County officials have said previously that there needs to be some separation between the sewer line and conduit so that sewer repair workers don’t accidentally cut through the fiber optic cable.
Cooper said Intelliwave would prefer to have the conduit installed by the contractor putting in the sewer lines, which would require a separate contract between the two. The county has not hired a contractor for the sewer project, and the commissioners said the goal is to put the project out to bid in July.
In addition to broadband internet, Intelliwave also provides television and telephone service through