On August 2, 2022, the people of Holland voted to make a community-investment in a high-speed fiber optic broadband network that will be available to every address in the city. Holland BPW will build and manage the broadband infrastructure, adding onto the backbone fiber network that the utility began creating 30 years ago.
Hiring an Owner's Engineer
In the months following the vote, there has been a lot of activity behind the scenes to ensure a successful city-wide fiber build project. The first step was to bring on an owner’s engineer. An owner’s engineer is key to managing large projects like this one. They are dedicated advocates to the project owner, helping to manage the vast details of the project. Holland BPW selected CTC, a firm whose expertise is community broadband and who knows our network well because they performed preliminary studies for the Downtown Shared Gig pilot as well as the larger city wide fiber analysis.
“Right now, we are digging deep into the fine points of our current infrastructure and making preliminary decisions that keep the project moving forward.” With anticipated lead times for some materials being 12 months, Holland BPW is in the process of bidding and ordering some construction supplies now. “Our goal is to avoid delays on this project as much as possible,” said Ted Siler, Utility Services Director.
Hiring a New Broadband Supervisor
We are currently seeking a Broadband Services Supervisor who will supervise and support Broadband Services employees and assist in the activities related to the engineering, design, construction, and maintenance of the HBPW fiber-optic broadband network. “This person will be integral in the activities related to building the infrastructure for Holland BPW Fiber. We’re looking for someone who can maintain momentum in the pace of the construction, while having the ability to create long long-range plans for the network,” explained Pete Hoffswell, Broadband Services Superintendent.
“People often ask if the fiber run overhead or underground,” mentioned Siler. There is a lot of detail involved in determining the best route and method to use for cabling each part of the city. There are places where underground is most appropriate and others where overhead is the best option. Knowing the lay of the land and the locations, heights, current attachments, and condition of every BPW utility pole is necessary. One of our current tasks is a make-ready pole analysis to get a complete picture of all Holland BPW’s utility poles. This will show us what path to take, leading to the design of how many phases or nodes will be created, and in what order.
Customers will be notified well in advance about when their neighborhood will be lit with Holland BPW Fiber. Holland BPW is planning to have an advance reservation form for customers who want to express interest in Holland BPW Fiber.
The first service node is expected to go live during the summer of 2024. Final phases should be completed by 2026.
August 2022 – Referendum
Winter 2022 – RFP for Design and Construction Services
Spring and Summer 2023 – Vendor Selection, network design
Fall 2023 – Construction begins. Construction will take place in phases, with services activated upon completion of each phase.
Summer 2024 – Phase 1 Go Live
2026 – Final phases of construction completed