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Iowa Telecom Announces Plans for $10M Fiber Network

Mahaska Communication Group officials said they plan to begin constructing the underground broadband network in early 2022, and hope to finish the project by late 2024 or early 2025.

glowing fiber optic cable
Shutterstock/asharkyu
(TNS) — An Iowa telecommunications company announced Friday it will install an estimated $10 million fiber broadband network throughout Newton in the next few years, which will provide high-speed Internet and other communication services to every home and business within city limits.

Mahaska Communication Group (MCG) will begin constructing the underground broadband network in early 2022, hoping to finish the project by either late 2024 or early 2025. The network will be built in phases and allow business owners and residents to receive services once they become available in their areas.

In addition to the fiber network, MCG will also establish a local office in Newton to house customer support, service technicians and salespersons. As a result, the Oskaloosa-based company's expansion is expected to create 12 new, full-time jobs in the community.

With network speeds up to two gigabits per second, residential and business customers will be able to enjoy faster Internet as well as television and local and long-distance telephone services. Businesses will have access to a private branch exchange phone system, advertising and other services.

MCG has been active for more than 20 years and serves eight incorporated communities in three counties. It is owned by Musco Lighting, a private company in Oskaloosa specializing in the design and manufacturing of sports and large area lighting systems.

Frank Hansen, general manager of MCG, is excited to serve the community and was grateful for the support from the city and other entities, which he said was one of the deciding factors in the company coming to Newton. MCG is currently building a fiber network in Grinnell, similar to what Newton will have.

"Expanding to Newton really aligns with our belief that to build strong communities in rural Iowa requires working together," Frank Hansen said. "...We've built in other communities around us, and building that base is going to make all of use stronger and work together to do that."

Tanya Michener, associate director of Newton Development Corporation (NDC), said the organization has been searching for more reliable and consistent broadband opportunities not only for school and work, but also for modern manufacturing and industrial practices.

The demand for high-quality Internet has only increased when people were forced to work or attend classes from home during the pandemic.

"Issues with equipment and being able to have fast service — those are also things that we're all looking at now after COVID," Michener said.

NDC and Jasper County Economic Development Corporation ( JEDCO) distributed a broadband survey coordinated by the Greater Des Moines Partnership to the residents of Jasper County. The survey was designed to measure the adequacy on Internet within an 11-county area.

The survey — whose results have yet to be released — also served as a way to identify outage gaps within the community. Michener said MCG is trying to solve some of those issues. Frank Hansen indicated Newton's fiber network will be very reliable, affordable and "almost limitless capacity."

Newton Mayor Mike Hansen already made the comment a few days ago that he was "the happiest mayor in the state of Iowa" after IndyCar, Hy-Vee and the City of Newton announced a racing series at the Iowa Speedway. On Friday, Aug. 20, following MCG's announcement, that sentiment remains true.

"We spend a lot of time talking about what our needs would be in our community as we continue to grow, particularly broadband services," Hansen said. "... I am so grateful and very delighted to welcome them to our community."

Steve Burnett, assistant general manager at MCG, said MCG keeps the customers in mind when making decisions and wants to build relationships, provide innovative solutions that strengthen and drive new business, improve health care, advance education and help achieve financial stability.

"We genuinely care about helping and treating you like you're valued and cared for," Burnett said. "When you call us, not only do we answer the phone, but you'll be talking to one of our local team members. We understand your time's important. That's why we show up when we say we're going to show up."

Appointments are scheduled on the hour, he added, and there isn't any "fine print" for customers to comb through since there are no contracts. Also, there are no data caps and nor any additional price increases after a certain amount of months, Burnett said. The money, too, will stay in the community.

Burnett said MCG will offer Newton customers one of two packages: 1 gigabit Internet for $59 per month and 2 gigabit Internet $99 per month.

©2021 the Newton Daily News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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