What it is: Janesville is preparing to begin its fourth phase of fiber optic internet network extension to additional city facilities. The city council approved the measure at its May 29 meeting.

Where: The project will extend fiber optic capabilities to the wastewater treatment facility on Tripp Road, Fire Station No. 2 on the south side, the Rock County Job Center and to UW-Rock County, Janesville Information Technology Manager Gordy LaChance said.

The existing fiber optic network covers the city services building, Fire Station No. 1, the transit building, transfer station, senior center, Rock County Courthouse, ice arena and the water utility.

Cost: The council approved May 29 a bid from J&R Underground for more than $539,000. The UW System will pay for about $90,000 of that, and Rock County will pay $27,000. Janesville is responsible for the remainder. Most of that money will come out of the city wastewater account, LaChance said.

Details: The wastewater plant is the focal point of the project. The fiber optic network will give the treatment plant an internet connection that’s 800 times faster, he said.

“(Right now) I don’t have enough communications capacity to that facility for their needs, so they’re restricted in what they can do,” he said.

Janesville plans to eventually extend the network to most city buildings. There is no strict timeline for finishing that; it will all depend on available funds, LaChance said.

When fiber optics are extended to a particular building, the network pays for itself within three to eight years. The facility saves money by no longer having to partner with an internet service provider such as AT&T or Charter.

The fiber optic network likely will never get extended to residential neighborhoods. State law prohibits municipality-operated networks from competing with private internet providers. There are loopholes, but it’s tough to get through them, LaChance said. He does envision a local partnership between the city, Janesville School District, Rock County and nearby municipalities to join their own fiber optic networks for a stronger system. The plan is in its infancy, he said.

Timeline: Work on Janesville’s fiber optic extension should begin in the next few weeks and finish in late August or early September.

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