"The main advantage of the network for DMU is connecting the SCADA system with a glass fiber, although there is also some advantage to use the network to connect with city buildings," DMU General Manager Mark Ramthun, told board members.
SCADA, which stands for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition, allows communications between DMU's main frame computer and electric substations.
Through the SCADA system, DMU can control its electric and water systems from its offices, Ramthun explained.
In his meeting notes to the board, Ramthun stated it appears the most immediate need for a local area network in Denison is to improve communications between DMU and the city offices, and that fiber extensions could improve operations for the police and fire departments.
For example, DMU, the police department and fire department could possibly share an internet signal together over the fiber optic network, Ramthun stated.
Ramthun said he had talked to Pat Stoll, DMU's water and electric distribution manager about using the fiber network for communications between DMU facilities.
He stated in a few years there is the possibility of using the fiber connection in lieu of radios.
Ramthun said he had met with representatives from companies such as Frontier Communications and Arcadia Telephone, which could be possible partners.
Any telecommunications provider that would want to provide a service over the DMU fiber network would be termed a partner.
Ramthun also said he had met with representatives of the City of Denison, Denison Police Department, Denison fire Chief and the Denison city manager about their needs for a local area network for communication services and has also contacted Crawford County, Crawford County Memorial Hospital and the Denison Community Schools.
He said all of these entities expressed some level of interest in participating in a joint project.
When he was general manager of the Indianola Municipal Utilities, Ramthun had a part in the LAN built in that community in 1999 and 2000. There, the purpose was the need for improved SCADA communications for the electric, water and sewer utilities.
The city, schools, county and Simpson College were partners in the project in Indianola.
He stated in Indianola, the local area network system had spare fibers available for up to eight years and are just now being used.
In his notes to the DMU board, Ramthun believes a similar project could work in Denison, and pointed to the support given by citizens to DMU through a 1997 vote to allow DMU to create a communications utility.
Ramthun said the idea of DMU getting into communications itself had been discussed previously with the board. He said the vote to allow DMU to create a communications system, while approved, was not really overwhelming, and the board is not interested in getting into a communications system. There is a lot of changing technology involved with that, he explained.
"All we're talking about is a fiber system in Denison that would connect all (public) buildings. There would be no signal on it other than what we want to share with the city and the school. There would be no telephone, internet or cable TV," he stated.
If a local area network were to be built, any spare fiber lines would be classified as an open access system to allow any private business equal opportunity to lease the fiber.
Ramthun said it would be up to any entity that leased fiber to run fiber to the home or business, or to provide wireless access.
A fiber network project could also include a point of presence building, which would provide a connecting point if one of the communications partners is bringing service to Denison and leasing DMU's fiber.
Ramthun said there are different ways in which a point of presence building could be done.
There is also an effort to see if any local businesses would have a need for bigger and faster communications, which would be provided by a fiber optic network. A meeting was conducted Thursday afternoon by Chamber and Development Council executive director Don Luensmann, to see if there was that need. But first, DMU would have to have a communications partner, which would lease spare fiber lines.
The results of Thursday's meeting would provide an indication if DMU's network should include spare fibers that would be leased in the future by a communications partner.
DMU board chairman Steve Martens pointed out that seeking requests for proposals won't cost DMU any money and would give the administration and the board an idea of what it would cost.
The board has a couple of points at which it could decide whether to stop or go ahead with the project. One point is after receiving the requests for proposals from design and engineering companies. If the engineering design is approved, the DMU board could also approve or deny the process at that point.
The design would include direct connections to all municipal buildings, electric substations, water well sites and towers and sewer lift stations.
To illustrate the band-width capacity of fiber, Ramthun explained T-1 fibers in Denison are equivalent to 20-25 copper lines, and fiber is equivalent to 40-50 T-1 lines.
According to Ramthun's notes, the requests for proposals would direct interested companies to design a SCADA system for DMU; design a local area network for DMU, the City of Denison, Crawford County Memorial Hospital, Crawford County and the Denison Community Schools; design the fiber project to include spare fibers for existing businesses and for future economic development possibilities; provide an estimate of cost for the entire fiber optic system; and develop a reimbursement contract for all DMU partners based on installation costs and annual maintenance estimates.